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South African President F.W. de Klerk reprieved 16 men from the gallows Tuesday, but an official said only a political decision could save 17 others who have exhausted all avenues of appeal.

Justice Ministry spokesman Werner Krull said the 16 would be jailed for 15 years to life, leaving 257 people waiting on death row for an answer to their final appeals."What happens to the 17 is a political decision," he said.