EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton called on the Belarusian leadership to introduce a death penalty execution moratorium and condemned the execution of Vladislav Kovalyov, one of the two men sentenced to death for their role in the 2011 Minsk subway blast.
“The High Representative is aware of the terrible crimes that these two men were accused of,” Ashton’s press service said in a statement. “At the same time, the High Representative notes that the two accused were not accorded due process including the right to defend themselves.”
President Alexander Lukashenko has refused to pardon Kovalyov and another man found guilty of the attack, Dmitry Konovalov, despite calls by Western governments and rights groups not to carry out the death sentence. Belarus is the only nation in Europe still using capital punishment.
“The death penalty is considered to be a cruel and inhumane punishment, which fails to act as a deterrent and represents and unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity,” the statement reads. “Therefore, the High Representative calls on Belarus, the only country in Europe still applying it, to join a global moratorium on the death penalty as a first step towards its universal abolition.”
The statement came after Belarusian media reports that Kovalyov had been executed. His mother Lyubov Kovaleva said she received a letter from Belarus' Supreme Court, which says that her son's verdict “has been fulfilled.” The letter is dated March 16.
Last November, Konovalov and Kovalyov were convicted for the bomb attack at Minsk subway’s most crowded station on April 11, 2011, which killed 15 people and wounded hundreds of others.
President Alexander Lukashenko has refused to pardon the men despite calls by Western governments and rights groups not to carry out the death sentence.
Belarusian media said on Saturday Konovalov was also executed, but the report is yet to be officially confirmed.