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Sri Lankan leader orders execution of 4 drug convicts

Sri Lankan leader orders execution of 4 drug convicts

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka's president says he has ordered the executions of four drug offenders who will be hanged in prison soon.

The executions if carried out will end a 43-year moratorium on capital punishment in the Indian Ocean island nation.

President Maithripala Sirisena tells the media Wednesday he has signed the death warrants including the days of their execution and sent them to prison authorities.

Sri Lanka last executed a prisoner in 1976. Currently, 1,299 prisoners are on death row, including 48 convicted of drug offenses.

Drug trafficking is a capital offense in Sri Lanka, which authorities believe is being used by peddlers as a transit hub.

Rights groups, foreign governments and groups including the EU have criticized Sirisena's earlier suggestion to revive death penalty.