6 Nov 2019 18:59

PACE insists on moratorium on death penalty in Belarus

MINSK. Nov 6 (Interfax) - The only way to improve relations between Belarus and the Council of Europe is impose a moratorium on the death penalty in this country, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said in a statement.

"I reiterate my call on the Belarusian authorities to introduce a moratorium on the death penalty, as a matter of urgency, and as a first step towards its full abolition. It is the only way forward to improve Belarus's relations with the Council of Europe," PACE General Rapporteur on the abolition of the death penalty Titus Corlatean said in a statement posted on the Assembly's website, in the wake of the pronouncement of yet another death sentence in Belarus, this time around on Viktor Sergil, at the end of October.

"Regardless of the gravity of the offence and the public interest in imposing a proportionate sanction, European human rights standards prohibit the use of the death penalty in all circumstances," Corlatean said.

The Brest Regional Court in Belarus ruled on October 25 to find Sergil guilty of killing a little girl in cold blood, and Natalia Kolb, the girl's mother, guilty of complicity in the crime; the court sentenced Sergil to death and Kolb to 25 years in prison.

The crime was committed in Luninets in October 2018. The girl's father came home on the evening of October 27 to find his daughter's body with indications of a violent death. Kolb, 25, and her acquaintance, Sergil, 47, were at the apartment at the time, both visibly drunk.

Sergil is the third person sentenced to death in Belarus in 2019.

The European Union earlier condemned the pronouncement of the death sentence.

Belarus is the only country in Europe and in the CIS still applying the death penalty, which, in line with the Belarusian Constitution, is seen as an exceptional punishment for especially serious crimes. Criminals convicted to the death penalty are executed by firing squad. Women are not subject to death penalty in Belarus.

As a rule, the relatives of the criminals convicted to the death penalty are not informed of their execution and are not granted the last meeting before the execution. Belarusian law stipulates that the bodies of the executed criminals are not released to their relatives for burial, nor are their relatives informed of their burial place.