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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad offered an amnesty deal to kidnappers in the war-torn country Tuesday, giving them 15 days to hand over victims or face a life of hard labour, state news agency SANA said.
Kidnappers who do not release victims within the 15 days will be sentenced to "a life of hard labour", or executed if their victims have been killed or sexually abused, SANA said.
"Anyone who has kidnapped a person for a ransom and deprived him of his liberty for political, financial or sectarian reasons will be sentenced to a life of hard labour," said the decree, according to SANA.
Kidnappers will be "executed if the crime led to the (victim's) death or permanent disability, as well as in case of sexual assault", the decree added.
It promises amnesty to "anyone who has kidnapped a person and sets him free or hands him over to the competent authorities within 15 days of the decree's entry into force", SANA said.
Kidnapping is rife in Syria, where a two-year conflict has left more than 70,000 people dead, according to the United Nations.
Monitors say money is a key motive for kidnapping, but sectarian attacks are on the rise in a country where the majority of rebels, like the population, are Sunnis, while Assad and several of his close associates belong to the Alawite community.