10 Jan 2020 18:48

First death penalties of 2020 handed down in Belarus

MINSK. Jan 10 (Interfax) - The Mogilev Regional Court sentenced two brothers, who were found guilty of committing a murder in a particularly violent manner, to the death penalty on Friday, the Human Rights Center Viasna said.

"Today, on January 10, a judge of the Mogilev Regional Court sentenced two brothers, Ilya Kostin and Stanislav Kostin, to the death penalty at an offsite hearing in Cherikov. They were charged with murdering their teacher, who was also their neighbor, and setting her house on fire," the center said.

The sentence can be appealed at a higher court.

In April 2019, while extinguishing a fire at a detached house in Cherikov, emergency services workers found the body of its 47-year-old owner. Numerous stab wounds were found on the corpse. The murder suspects were identified shortly after; they were two brothers with prior criminal records, aged 19 and 21, who had had a quarrel with the woman the day before.

Belarus remains the only country in Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) to maintain the death penalty, which is intended as an exceptional measure of punishment for especially grave crimes, in accordance with the Constitution. Executions are carried out by firing squad.

As a rule, the relatives of the criminals sentenced to death are not informed of their execution and are not granted a last visit before it is carried out. Belarusian law stipulates that the bodies of the executed criminals are not released to their relatives for burial, nor are their relatives informed of their burial place.

Three death penalties were handed down and three executions were carried out in Belarus in 2019.

The EU, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and a number of international organizations have condemned the death penalty in Belarus.