Two more death row prisoners were executed in Belarus, the media report on 27 and 28 November with the reference to human rights activists.
Dates of executions are unknown, relatives of the inmates say.
Death row prisoners Siamion Berazhnoy, 31, and Ihar Hershankou, 36, were executed by shooting, reports the unregistered in Belarus Human Rights Center Viasna.
The information was received from the prisoners’ families. Relatives of Berazhnoy received the last letter from him several days ago.
After the information of Berazhnoy’s execution transpired, the mother of the second inmate Ihar Hershankou tried to visit him in prison but was told her son was no longer there. Later the woman received an official notification from the Mahilioŭ Regional Court saying that her son had also been executed.
Siamion Berazhnoy and Ihar Hershankou were sentenced to death penalty in the “black realtors” case in summer 2017. The men were found guilty of six murders and preparation of another one, kidnappings, and real estate fraud. The residents of Mahilioŭ appealed the verdict, but the appeal was turned down by the Supreme Court in December.
Earlier this year, the UN Human Rights Committee registered the individual appeals of both prisoners. According to the rule, while the examination by the UN is underway, the execution should be pending, but Belarus usually does not follow this principle.
The news about new executions in Belarus comes just a few weeks after the visit of the representatives of Amnesty International and discussion of progress in death sentence abolition with Belarusian authorities.
“We are shocked,” Marie Struthers, the regional director of the Amnesty International, said on Twitter. She condemned the execution.
We srongly condemn the execution of death row prisoner, Siamion Berazhnoy in #Belarus.
“We are shocked to hear this news only weeks after our visit to Belarus to engage with the authorities there on their progress towards abolition of the #deathpenalty,” – @struthers_marie. pic.twitter.com/5hzQT1WcNN
— Amnesty Eastern Europe & Central Asia (@AmnestyEECA) November 27, 2018
No bargains about executions
Belarus is ready to continue the talks on death penalty moratorium with its western partners but isn’t going to bargain on that, the spokesperson for the Belarusian MFA Anatoly Glaz stated earlier in November.
“This is a very serious issue for us as a country, for our people… We are working with public opinion. We are working very closely with the Council of Europe… But there is no maturity on the subject…” the official said.
In 2017, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko declared that the abolition of death penalty is possible only by a referendum (the previous referendum was in 1996, with 80% of the vote in favor of the punishment – note BelarusFeed).
Belarus remains the only country in Europe that still applies the death penalty. It carried over 250 executions in the past 25 years; four of them in 2018.