Former French Justice Minister Robert Badinter, who brought an end to capital punishment in France in 1981, died at the age of 95, his aide Aude Napoli told AFP on Friday.

As Minister of Justice under Socialist President François Mitterrand (1981-1986), he brought in the law of October 9, 1981 abolishing the death penalty, at a time when was France overwhelmingly in favor of this supreme punishment. He subsequently campaigned, until his “last breath of life,” for the universal abolition of capital punishment.

After leaving the government, he chaired the Constitutional Council for nine years (1986-95).

A Socialist senator from 1995 to 2011, he had the satisfaction of seeing the abolition of the death penalty enshrined in the Constitution in 2007.

Always very active, he worked on a reform of the UN in the 2000s and on a reform of the Labor Code during François Hollande’s quinquennium. After leaving the government, he chaired the Constitutional Council for nine years (1986-95).

Robert Badinter saved many lives by dedicating his own to the fight against capital punishment, playing a pivotal role in banning the dreaded guillotine in 1981.

The soft-spoken attorney, who said that he could not abide by a “killer justice system,” was widely vilified for pushing through legislation banning the death penalty at a time when most French people still supported the practice.

He later said that he had “never felt so lonely” in fighting capital punishment, which was carried out in France by beheading with the guillotine, a practice dating back to the French Revolution of 1789.

But years later, he was hailed for his integrity and statesmanship.

“Lawyer, minister of justice and man who abolished the death penalty, Robert Badinter never stopped pleading for enlightenment,” President Emmanuel Macron wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

“He was a person of the century, a man with a republican conscience and a spirit that was French,” he added.

With AFP