EU Criticizes Belarusian Death Sentences
The European Union on July 21 criticized the two latest death sentences handed down in Belarus, saying that they "violate the right to life."
Belarus's Mahilyow Regional Court sentenced Ihar Hershankow (Ihar Hershankou) and Syamyon Berazhny (Siamion Berazhny) to death on July 21 after they were convicted of six murders linked to a real estate scam.
The defendants allegedly posed as estate agents and persuaded elderly homeowners to sell them their apartments at discounted prices, before killing them.
"The European Union is strongly opposed to capital punishment and expects that the legal right to appeal for both convicts will be fully guaranteed," EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said.
"The continued application of the death penalty goes counter to Belarus's stated willingness to engage with the international community," she said. "The death penalty violates the right to life and is the ultimate cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment."
The Council of Europe also spoke out against the planned executions.
Kocijancic said the EU raised its opposition to Belarusian death sentences at the Human Rights Dialogue in Brussels on July 20. She said all remaining death sentences should be commuted and a moratorium imposed on death penalties, which she said should eventually be abolished.
Belarus is the only country in Europe still applying capital punishment.