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Illinois abolishes death penalty

The governor of Illinois has abolished the state's death penalty.

Pat Quinn signed legislation abandoning capital punishment, two months after Illinois politicians voted to do the same and more than a decade after former Governor George Ryan imposed a moratorium because of concerns that innocent people could be put to death.

Illinois now joins 15 other states which have abolished the death penalty. The new law takes effect on July 1.

Mr Ryan, a Republican, imposed the moratorium in 2000, after the death sentences of 13 men were overturned. He also cleared Death Row before leaving office in 2003 by commuting the sentences of 167 condemned inmates to life in prison.

Mr Quinn, a Democrat, has spent the last two months consulting with prosecutors, victims' families, death penalty opponents and religious leaders.

Illinois' attorney general was among those asking for a veto, saying safeguards are in place to prevent wrongful executions.

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