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EU Urges Belarus To End Capital Punishment, Amid Reports Of Execution

Kiryl Kazachok in a courtroom in December 2016

The European Union has criticized Belarus for executing convicted murderer Kiryl Kazachok and urged President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's government to abolish capital punishment.

Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, said in a statement issued on March 8 that the EU "expects Belarus, the only country in Europe still applying capital punishment, to introduce without delay a moratorium on the death penalty as a first step towards its abolition."

"In light of the execution in Belarus of Kiryl Kazachok, which took place in October 2017 but was brought to the public's attention only now, the European Union again reaffirms its strong opposition to capital punishment in all circumstances," the statement said.

Minsk-based Vyasna (Spring) human rights center said on March 7 that relatives of Kazachok had only been informed in recent days that he had been executed in October.

Kazachok was sentenced to death in December 2016 after a court in the southeastern city of Homel found him guilty of killing his 17-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter in order to punish his wife for wanting a divorce.

The court found that Kazachok was drunk when he carried out the killings.

Kazachok refused to appeal the sentence.

The EU and rights groups have, for years, been urging Belarus to declare a moratorium on the death penalty.

Activists say there are currently five convicted murderers on death row in Belarus.