THE death penalty has been removed from the statute books, despite opposition from several legislators. The Crimes (Amendment) (No 3) Bill, which sought the abolition of the penalty, was passed by a vote of 40-9, with two abstentions. The penalty, which has been commuted to life imprisonment for the past 27 years, applied to murder, treason and piracy withviolence. The chairman of the bills committee studying the legislative amendment, Mr Andrew Wong Wang-fat, said the abrogation of the penalty was long-overdue. Legco passed a motion in favour of the repeal of capital punishment in June 1991. Among the few opponents of the change was Mr Chim Pui-chung, who said abolishing capital punishment was not in the public interest because it protected the rights of criminals but not of victims.