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Thread: Belarus

  1. #21
    Senior Member CnCP Legend Mike's Avatar
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    Jun 2015
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    EU condemns death sentence in Belarus

    The EU has issued a statement reaffirming its strong opposition to capital punishment after the Belarusian Supreme Court upheld the death sentence against Siarhei Vostrykau. This is the fourth confirmation by the Belarusian Supreme Court of a death sentence this year, and follows the execution of Syarhey Iwanow in April, as well as two other death sentences this year.

  2. #22
    Senior Member CnCP Legend Mike's Avatar
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    Belarus executes three Murderers in November

    As many as three of the four men on death row in the Belarusian capital Minsk have been executed in a shameful purge since 5 November, Amnesty International revealed today after confirming with local activists.

    “Purging death row of its prisoners is an appalling measure for any country to take. But it is additionally shameful in Belarus, where executions are typically shrouded in secrecy and carried out at a moment’s notice,” said Aisha Jung, Campaigner on Belarus at Amnesty International, who recently returned from Minsk.

    According to the Belarusian NGO Viasna, since 5 November, Siarhei Khmialeuski, Ivan Kulesh and possibly Hyanadz Yakavitski have all been executed with a gunshot to the back of the head. The fate of the fourth man on death row, Siarhei Vostrykau, hangs in the balance following his death sentence on 19 May.

    On 29 November, relatives of 31-year-old Siarhei Khmialeuski arrived at the SIZO No.1 prison in Minsk to visit him on death row, only to be informed he had been executed on an unknown date in recent weeks. They had not received letters from him for more than a month, but the prison administration accepted a payment in his name last week. His death sentence had been upheld by the Supreme Court on 6 May, for the murder of at least two people in the capital Minsk.

    Siarhei Khmialeuski’s execution came swiftly after two others in recent weeks.

    Ivan Kulesh, who had his death sentence upheld on 29 March for murder and robbery, was executed on 5 November. Hyanadz Yakavitski, sentenced to death on 5 January for the murder of his partner, is also believed to have been executed this month – his fate will be revealed in the coming days when his daughter attempts to visit him on death row.

    The sudden string of executions comes after a long hiatus in Belarus. Before this month, only one person had been executed since November 2014 – Siarhei Ivanou on 18 April 2016.

  3. #23
    Senior Member CnCP Legend Mike's Avatar
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    EU Condemns Capital Punishment in Belarus: 2016’s Fifth Death Sentence Pending

    he European Union has condemned a death sentence that was handed down earlier this week in Belarus to Mr Kiryl Kazachok. This sentence is the fifth in a row after the country executed four persons this year. The EU reminded that this goes against the commitments made by Belarusian authorities to consider the introduction of a moratorium on the death penalty.

    Mr Kiryl Kazachok was sentenced on Wednesday (29 December) to death for murdering his two children. A judge found Mr. Kazachok guilty of strangling his 17-year-old son Uladzislaw and nine-year-old daughter Kira at their home in Mazyr on January 31, 2016. According to the prosecution, the man killed his children to take revenge on his wife who filed for divorce in October 2015. Mr. Kazachok had previously been convicted of disorderly conduct and physical violence.

  4. #24
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    Belarus cannot abolish capital punishment — president

    Capital punishment cannot be abolished in Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Europe’s only retentionist country, said on Friday.

    "I have no right to abolish capital punishment as we held a referendum," Lukashenko told reporters, referring to the referendum held in 1996 when over 80% of Belarusian voted against abolishing the death penalty.

    "If people vote against death penalty, I will sign the moratorium," the president said, accusing Europe of double standards.

    "Let’s begin with America, make them abolish capital punishment," he said.

    Under the Criminal Code of Belarus, capital punishment can be imposed for terrorism, treason, war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, homicide, etc.

    According to Amnesty International, at least three people were executed in Belarus in 2016.
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  6. #26
    Junior Member Stranger
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    Feb 2014
    Belarus is not a member of the European Union.

  7. #27
    Administrator Helen's Avatar
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    Jan 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    Belarus Carries Out First Execution This Year; EU Urges Moratorium

    Radio Free Europe

    Belarus is believed to have carried out its first execution of the year.

    Homel resident Syarhey Vostrykau, who was found guilty of rapes and murders involving extreme brutality, was most likely executed last month on either April 13 or April 29, the Belarusian human rights center Vyasna said in a report posted on its website.

    "Representatives of the group Human Rights Activists Against the Death Penalty in Belarus have learned that the death sentence handed out to Homel resident Siarhei Vostrykau has been carried out. His mother has received a relevant report from the Homel Regional Court," Vyasna said on its website on May 5.

    Judges in the regional court in the southeastern city of Homel found Vostrykau, 33, guilty in May of last year of kidnapping, raping, and murdering two women in 2014 and 2015. The case was heard behind closed doors.

    Belarus remains the only country in Europe which still applies the death penalty. The execution is carried out by firing squad.

    The European Union issued a statement reaffirming "its strong opposition to capital punishment in all circumstances."

    "The continued application of the death penalty goes counter to Belarus's stated willingness to engage with the international community, including the European Union, on the matter and to consider the introduction of a moratorium on the use of the death penalty," EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said in a May 6 statement.

    "The European Union urges commute the remaining death sentences and to introduce without delay a moratorium on the death penalty as a first step towards its abolition," Kocijancic said.

    Belarus carried out four executions last year. Before 2016, an execution had not been carried out under the Belarusian legal system since November 2014.
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
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  8. #28
    Senior Member CnCP Legend Mike's Avatar
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    Bucks County Pennsylvania
    Five death sentences given in Belarus in 2017

    By Interfax-Ukraine

    Belarusian courts handed down five death sentences and three life sentences in 2017, Belarusian Supreme Court First Deputy Chairman Valery Kalinkovich said.

    “Five [people] received death sentences and three people received life sentences [in 2017],” Kalinkovich said at a press conference in Minsk on Jan. 31 in response to a question from journalists.

    It should be taken into account that a life sentence is an alternative to the death penalty, he said. “We have two measures of extraordinary punishment: life in prison and the death penalty,” he said

  9. #29
    Senior Member CnCP Legend Mike's Avatar
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    The secret executions in Europe's 'last dictatorship'

    By Hugo Bachega
    BBC News

    For the 10 months he spent on death row, Gennady Yakovitsky could only tell whether it was day or night by the dim light filtering through the protective cover on the window of his cell, where the white lights stayed on even while he slept.

    It was easy to lose sense of time. He was held in isolation, any walk outdoors was forbidden. Visits were tightly controlled and, other than lawyers, only close relatives were allowed to see him, once a month.

    On those days, Yakovitsky would be taken from his cell and escorted, hands cuffed behind his back, with guards forcing his face down. He, like all the others, was never told where he was going, said his daughter Alexandra. They were kept guessing: "Is it to meet their relatives? Lawyers? To be shot?"

    Father and daughter saw each other through a glass window, always closely watched by guards. "We didn't talk about the case, it was forbidden. We could only talk about family things." On one of her eight visits Alexandra, then 27, complained to him about the long time it was taking to receive a new passport.

    "The guards said sarcastically: 'You still have a little time left'."

    Often described as "Europe's last dictatorship", Belarus is the only country in Europe and the former Soviet Union still to use the death penalty, and the process is shrouded in secrecy.

    Executions are carried out by a shot in the head, but the exact number is unknown: more than 300 are thought to have happened since 1991, when Belarus became an independent country.

    Two executions were carried out there last year, according to Amnesty International, and, currently, at least six men are believed to be on death row - under the country's laws, women cannot be sentenced to death.

    Those convicted - usually for homicides with aggravating circumstances - are kept in one of the high-security cells in the basement of Pre-trial Detention Centre 1, a jail set up in the building of a 19th Century castle, now partially collapsed, in the centre of the capital Minsk. Activists and journalists are rarely given any access.

    Inmates are not allowed to lie or sit on the beds outside the designated sleeping hours, a former prison worker told the group, and spend most of their days walking around their cells. Even their right to send and receive letters is often said to be disrespected.

    Gennady Yakovitsky, who lived in Vileyka, a town about 100km (60 miles) from Minsk, had been accused of killing his 35-year-old partner in their flat after two days of drinking with friends in July 2015, according to reports by human rights groups.

    After an argument, in which he allegedly struck her several times with his fists, they went to a separate room, where Yakovitsky fell asleep. What happened next he said he could not remember.

    When he woke up, he found her already dead, with a broken jaw and partially naked. He dressed her in her jeans that contained bloodstains that had not been there before, the reports claimed, and alerted the police. Three days later, he was arrested.

    Activists said that Yakovitsky faced psychological pressure during his first interrogation and that the people who were in the flat at the time gave contradictory testimony. "Some witnesses were drunk in court," his daughter said. "[Later] they said they couldn't remember what happened. No evidence was provided".

    Yakovitsky had already been sentenced to death for murder in 1989, but this was commuted to a 15-year jail term. Alexandra said the court in Minsk had used this as "the main proof" against her father.

    In January 2016, he was found guilty of a second murder, which he denied, and sentenced to death.

    On execution day, prisoners are told by a public prosecutor that their appeal for a presidential pardon has been rejected. Aleh Alkayeu, former head of the prison where the executions are carried out, told Viasna: "They trembled either from cold or from fear, and their crazy eyes radiated such a real horror that it was impossible to look at them."

    The inmates are blindfolded and taken to a specially-arranged room where access is restricted only to those allowed by the prosecutor: never a member of the public, according to accounts from former agents.

    They are then forced to their knees and shot dead.

    The whole procedure is said to last some two minutes. Only weeks or even months later are their relatives informed. In some cases, this happens when a box is sent by mail with some of the convict's personal belongings.

    The bodies are never returned to the families and the locations where they have been buried remain a state secret, a violation of the human rights of the inmates and their relatives, UN special rapporteur Miklós Haraszti said in 2017. This, he added, amounted to torture.

    In a referendum in 1996, 80% of Belarusians were against abolition of the death penalty. The result was not recognised internationally because, as with any other vote in Belarus, there were claims of widespread violations.

    The government of President Alexander Lukashenko, in power since 1994, still uses this result to justify its policy and has made any change conditional on another popular vote. Meanwhile, a group in parliament is now discussing what can be done, but observers say it may take some time before any decision is taken.

    Until then, Belarus is likely to remain the only European country outside the Council of Europe, the continent's top human rights watchdog.

    "Ultimately Belarus will have to choose the way it's going to abolish the death penalty," said Tatiana Termacic, from the Council's Human Rights and Rule of Law Directorate. "It's on the way towards abolition and we hope it'll be sooner rather than later."

    Yet, she said, it was a "black stain" on a continent almost totally free of the death penalty.

    Recent polls in Belarus suggest public support for capital punishment has fallen as campaigns have raised awareness. There was an outcry of sorts in 2012, when two men were put to death for a deadly bomb attack on the Minsk metro a year earlier.

    Nevertheless, between 50% and two-thirds of people are believed to still favour the practice.

    The president's office did not respond to a series of BBC requests for comment.

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