Minsk: Belarus will abolish the death penalty as soon as the US abolishes it, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has said.
A court in the capital Minsk sentenced Nov 30 two men to death for carrying out a bomb attack that killed 15 people and injured 200 in the Minsk metro.
Belarus is the only European country still with the death penalty. Sentences are carried out by a shot in the neck.
Human rights activists have urged Belarus not to apply the death penalty in the case.
"The relevance of the death penalty has not declined today in Belarus," Lukashenko was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
The European Union has called on Belarus to join the rest of Europe in prohibiting capital punishment.
"When I was accused by the EU, I advise them to look at the other side of the ocean. Let the US abolish the death penalty, we'll be next," Lukashenko said.
Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for EU foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton, said: "We believe that the death penalty is a cruel and inhuman punishment that does not allow any reversal, and it fails to provide a deterrence to any criminal behaviour and is an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity."
Lukashenko said double standards were being used on the issue of death penalty.
"If the majority of people in our country are for abolition of the death penalty, I will abide by that decision," he said.
First Published: Saturday, December 24, 2011, 15:07