EU reiterates its call on Belarus to impose moratorium on death penalty

2016 2016-01-15T12:13:51+0300 2016-01-15T12:13:51+0300 en

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.

On January 5, the Minsk Regional Court inflicted the death penalty on Henadz Yakavitski for the brutal murder of his common-law wife.

Mr. Yakavitski’s legal right to appeal his sentence should be fully guaranteed, EEAS Spokesperson Maja Kocijancic says in the statement.

«Mr. Yakavitski was convicted of a serious crime and we extend our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the victim,» the statement says. «Nevertheless, the European Union is opposed to capital punishment in all cases and without exception. We urge Belarus, the only country in Europe still applying capital punishment, to join a global moratorium on the death penalty as the 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,» Ms. Kocijancic notes.

Mr. Yakavitski, 59, a resident of Vileyka, told the court that he had killed the woman while under the influence of alcohol and did not remember much about the incident.

According to the prosecution, Mr. Yakavitski attacked the woman during a drinking party attended by several people. Eyewitnesses gave contradictory evidence during the trial but unanimously blamed the woman’s death on Mr. Yakavitski, saying that he had punched her between 10 and 15 times. Forensic tests indicate that she was hit 46 times.

In the Soviet era, Mr. Yakavitski was convicted of murdering two persons, human rights defender Andrey Paluda told BelaPAN on Monday.

According to Mr. Paluda, one of the people allegedly murdered by Mr. Yakavitski was a male employee of a culture house where he worked. Mr. Yakavitski was sentenced to death but later had his sentence commuted to a lengthy prison term. He served 15 years in prison.

Mr. Yakavitski is the 406th person to be sentenced to death in the history of independent Belarus. Only one of the convicts was pardoned by Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

In 2015, two people were sentenced to death in Belarus.