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French National Assembly Approves Tough Crime Bill

France's lower house of parliament has approved legislation boosting punishments for juvenile crime, in a push to discourage the kind of deadly rioting that erupted last year in France's poorest neighborhoods.

The controversial legislation toughens punishments for offenders as young as 13- years-old, and allows French courts to treat 16-to-18-year-olds charged with serious crime as adults.

The National Assembly approved the bill Tuesday. It is set for debate in the Senate in January. Centrist and leftist parties say they plan to vote against the measure.

The bill is backed by center-right Interior Minister and presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy, an outspoken advocate for tougher French law enforcement

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.