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EU Calls On Belarus To Abolish Death Penalty After Latest Sentencing

The European External Action Service has called on Belarus to abolish capital punishment, two days after Belarusian authorities pronounced their latest death sentence in the country.

In a January 11 statement, the European Union service said that it "learned about another death penalty sentence pronounced by the Mahileu Regional Court to Alyaksandr Asipovich" on January 9.

The EU service called on Minsk to impose a less severe punishment in that case and against other prisoners on death row.

"The European Union expresses sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims," the statement said. "Meanwhile, the EU clearly stands against death penalty use in any circumstances. Death penalty is not a factor to decrease crimes, and mistakes inevitable in any justice system become irreversible if capital punishment is practiced."

The statement called on Belarusian officials to introduce a moratorium on the death penalty as the first step to abolish it.

The 36-year-old Asipovich was convicted and sentenced on January 9 for the murder of two women in the eastern city of Babruysk.

Belarus has drawn criticism from rights activists and EU nations as the only European country that executes prisoners.

For years, the EU has urged Belarus to join other countries in declaring a moratorium on the death penalty.

According to rights organizations, more than 400 people have been sentenced to death in Belarus since it gained independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Human rights groups say Belarus carried out one execution in November and two executions in May last year.
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