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Belarus Carries Out Second Execution This Year

Death convict Ivan Kulesh, 28, has been executed this month, human rights defenders reported on 28 November. The execution reportedly took place on 5 November.

The exact date will be known after receiving a death certificate by the convict’s family members, Viasna Human Rights Centre wrote.

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On 29 March the Supreme Court of Belarus confirmed the death sentence against Ivan Kulesh, which had already been handed down by the Grodna Regional Court in November 2015. Ivan Kulesh was convicted of killing three saleswomen in Lida region, as well as an attempted murder, theft and robbery.

Two murders were committed in September of 2013, the third one — in November 2014. Ivan Kulesh was drunk when he committed all three murders. He recognized his fault completely, but refused to testify in court.

Some inconsistencies between the defendant’s testimony and the investigation materials have been attributed to the fact that at the time of committing the crime Kulesh was drunk and the crimes were committed a long time ago, Viasna adds.

In March Kulesh’s appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court. During the hearing, Ivan Kulesh said he fully agreed with the sentence because he had taken a human life. The convict chose not to request for President’s pardon.

During the appeal hearing Kulesh said that he agreed with the verdict.

This is the second execution carried out in Belarus this year. In May 2016 Syarhey Iwanow, a resident of Rechitsa, was executed for a brutal murder of a girl.

At present there are three death sentence convicts in Belarus: Henadz Yakavitski, convicted of various criminal offenses and found giulty of killing his partner with extreme cruelty and sentenced to death; Siarhei Khmialeuski, who was found guilty of a brutal murder of several people; and Siarhei Vostrykau, whose death verdict was confirmed in October 2016.

Belarus remains the only country in Europe still applying death penalty. The Council of Europe and other international organizations have many times called on the Belarusian authorities to introduce a moratorium on capital punishment.

Since 1990 over 400 people were sentenced to death penalty in Belarus. In 26 years only one person had his death sentence commuted.