Dzmitry Kanavalau and Uladzislau Kavaliou in court, illustrative photo
The European External Action Service (EEAS) has issued a statement reiterating the European Union’s call on the Belarusian government to impose a moratorium on the death penalty in connection with a new death sentence in the country.
“We urge Belarus, the only country in Europe still applying capital punishment, to join a global moratorium on the death penalty as a first step towards its abolition. Commuting the sentences of persons sentenced to death and launching a public debate on the death penalty with Belarusian society would be an important move in this regard,” the statement reads.
A death sentence was handed down last week to Henadz Yakavitski by the Minsk Regional Court of the Republic of Belarus.
Belarus remains the only country in Europe and on the territory of the former Soviet Union which still uses the death penalty.
A high-profile case over the explosion in Minsk metro on April 11, 2011 is to be recalled: in March, 2012 Uladzislau Kavaliou and Dzmitry Kanavalau were put to death after being convicted of carrying out a terrorist attack.
The death verdict to the young men delivered by the Supreme Court of Belarus on November, 30, 2011 triggered a mixed reaction in society and drew attention to the death penalty issue once again. Mr Kanavalau admitted legality of the judgement and refused to lodge a petition for pardon but Mr Kavaliou denied his participation in organising three explosions and stated that in the course of investigation he had incriminated himself and Kanavalau acting under pressure of law enforcement officials.
The West has repeatedly urged the Belarusian authorities to join a global moratorium on the death penalty as a first step towards its universal abolition.