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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ukraine Urged Not to Execute Mass Killer

KIEV -- Ukraine should not execute a convicted mass killer because the move would jeopardize its membership in the Council of Europe, the organization's top official said Friday.

Ukraine pledged to ban the death penalty when it entered the Council of Europe in 1995 and no exceptions can be allowed, said Lord Russell-Johnston, president of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly, known as PACE.

His comment came after a Ukrainian court recently handed down the death sentence to Anatoliy Onoprienko, who was recently convicted of killing 52 men, women and children.

President Leonid Kuchma and other Ukrainian leaders have called for Onoprienko's execution.

Parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko said earlier this week that Ukraine's moratorium on the death penalty should not apply to Onoprienko, whose "barbarous acts must not be subject to the Council of Europe's norms.''

Russell-Johnston said that even though Onoprienko's crimes were terrifying, he should not be executed.

Sentencing criminals to death does not guarantee that other people will not commit similar crimes, Russell-Johnston said in Kiev before completing a three-day visit to Ukraine.

Russell-Johnston said Ukraine's inadequate implementation of the Council requirements along with plans to execute Onoprienko might prompt PACE to consider suspending Ukraine's membership at its next session in June, the UNIAN news agency reported.