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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 August 2006, 16:29 GMT 17:29 UK
EU rejects death penalty debate
Lech Kaczynski
Lech Kaczynski advocates traditional Catholic values
The European Union has brushed off a call from the Polish president for a Europe-wide debate on reinstating the death penalty.

"The death penalty is not compatible with European values," European Commission spokesman Steffan de Rynck told reporters.

Last Friday, Polish President Lech Kaczynski urged the organisation to review its policy on the issue.

The abolition of the death penalty is one of the conditions of EU membership.

Mr Kaczynski said countries which had abandoned capital punishment had "given an unimaginable advantage to the perpetrator over the victim".

It was "the advantage of life over death", he told Polish public radio.

Call for a review

Most Western European countries abandoned the death penalty in the 1960s while Eastern European states did so in the 1990s.

Poland abolished capital punishment in 1997, following a moratorium on executions imposed in 1988.

Mr Kaczynski called for a review of that policy.

"European civilisation has roads that lead us into the future, but it also has blind alleys - and this is one of them," he said.

Meanwhile, the League of Polish Families, a nationalist minority party in Poland's governing coalition, launched a campaign for a partial restoration of the death penalty.

"We want to collect half-a-million signatures of EU citizens on a petition demanding the death penalty for paedophile murderers," the vice-president of the party, Wojciech Wierzejski, told the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita.

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