Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban doesn’t plan to reintroduce the death penalty, his chief of staff Janos Lazar said on Thursday.

The statement came after the head of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker warned Orban would be in for “a fight” if he considered restoring capital punishment which is outlawed in the EU.

Asked about Orban’s comment this week that the issue should be on Hungary’s agenda, Juncker said the EU’s fundamental charter “forbids the death penalty”.

Juncker also said that “Orban must immediately make clear that this is not his intention. If it would be his intention it would be a fight,” according to Reuters.

Orban informed European Parliament President Martin Schulz on Thursday that he only wanted to have a debate on the issue and wasn’t planning to restore the death penalty, Lazar said, according to state-run Hungarian news agency MTI.

Hungary will “keep to EU laws”, Lazar added.

Orban raised the issue of the possible reintroduction of the death penalty on Tuesday following the murder of a young tobacco shop assistant by a robber in the city of Kaposvar last week.

According to the rightwing premier current penalties for serious crime were too lenient and death penalty should be “kept on the agenda” in Hungary.

Hungary abolished capital punishment in 1990, fulfilling a key condition for membership of the European Union, which it joined in 2004.

 

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