Russian senator proposes death penalty for child murder
MOSCOW, April 30 (RAPSI) - Valentina Petrenko of the Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of parliament, has called for lifting the moratorium on the death penalty in cases involving the murder of children.
"I think that the death penalty would be a fair and proportionate punishment for those who murder children. The recent incident in Belgorod - where the murderer did not stop short of killing children - proves my point," Petrenko told RIA Novosti.
On April 22, Sergei Pomazun, 31, opened fire in a weapons store in the city of Belgorod in southern Russia, killing three people, and then shot another three people on the street outside. Five people died on the scene, including a 14-year-old girl. Another victim, a 16-year-old girl, died later in intensive care.
According to Petrenko, the death penalty should be an option in cases where prosecutors do not have "the slightest doubt" that the suspect is guilty. She added that court proceedings have to be open, with members of the civil society present.
"We cannot remain merciful when someone murders the helpless and the vulnerable," she said. "Even life imprisonment will not be sufficient punishment for those who kill young people because the murderer will live while the child will not."
She said the death penalty can also be used as an exclusive measure for those who kill the elderly and terrorists whose attacks caused multiple deaths.
The lawmakers could work out an arrangement in which the death penalty would be used in exclusive cases in Russia, while the country would maintain its obligations to the Council of Europe on the moratorium on the death penalty.
"I think that Russians will support this initiative," Petrenko said.
The last death sentence in Russia was carried out on September 2, 1996. Still, Russian courts continued sentencing people to death for three subsequent years. These sentences were all commuted, most to life imprisonment. In April 1997, Russia signed Protocol No. 6 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which abolished peacetime application of the death penalty. The Protocol was ratified over ten years later, but the death penalty had fallen out of use in Russia by that time. It was international law, among other things, that brought about this change.