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Top judge seeks shorter prison terms

TEHRAN, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Iran's new judiciary chief has criticised heavy prison terms and asked judges to be more lenient, especially towards first-time offenders and women, newspapers reported on Wednesday.

``There is very little mention of imprisonment in Islamic texts and Islam's policy of punishment is not based on limiting and imprisoning human resources,'' Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi was quoted as saying.

``Judges should try to issue shorter prison sentences, especially for women and first-time offenders...Denying someone the right to a place in society should be a last resort and only in special cases,'' he said.

Officials often complain about overcrowding in Iran's prisons, where two-thirds of the estimated 150,000 inmates are held on drug-related charges.

Hashemi-Shahroudi, appointed in August, has vowed to reform the judicial apparatus and to apply the rule of law in a system that has been troubled by widespread allegations of corruption.


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