"The decision is to be adopted by the court of law in line with current legislation," said Pavel Krasheninnikov, who heads the State Duma's committee on civil, criminal, arbitration and procedural law.
Russian Deputy Prosecutor General Nikolai Shepel asked the Supreme Court of North Ossetia at hearings Thursday for the death penalty for Nurpashi Kulayev, who is being tried for his alleged involvement in the terrorist attack on a school in the North Ossetian town of Beslan in September 2004. According to official reports, the attack left 331 people, including 186 children, dead.
Krasheninnikov said the Russian constitution barred courts from issuing death sentences because a moratorium on the death penalty was in effect in the country.
He said sentencing Kulayev to death would require amendments to the law.
Another State Duma member expressed sympathy with the prosecutor's request.
"Deputy Prosecutor General Nikolai Shepel's position with respect to Nurpashi Kulayev, who was involved in the seizure of the Beslan school, is close and plausible to me," Vladimir Katrenko said.
"Death is the only penalty for bastards who kill our children," he said.
He said he backed the moratorium on the death penalty instituted to fulfill Russia's commitments to the Council of Europe, but added that terrorists guilty in the deaths of innocent civilians, including children, should be considered special circumstances.
Lyubov Sliska, a deputy chairperson of the State Duma, also cited the moratorium and suggested Kulayev be sentenced to life imprisonment.
However, she said public opinion on the possibility of lifting the moratorium should be taken into account while dealing with such grave crimes.
"In certain instances, we should be guided by the domestic situation," Sliska said.
Duma Deputy Speaker Vladimir Pekhtin said the lower house would not lift the moratorium even if the court sentenced Kulayev to death.
"Death is the lightest possible punishment for such crimes," Pekhtin said, noting that Kulayev should spend the rest of his life repenting.
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Infographics: World War I, 1914-1918