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Belarus. The death penalty was carried out, the sentence for murder – the Viasna human rights center

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Another death sentence was carried out in Belarus, human rights defenders from the center of Viasno reported. According to Belarusian activists, the sentence of a man convicted of murdering two people was carried out in July last year, but they have only received information about this fact now. The sentence was to be carried out more than a year after it became final.

The execution was to take place on July 16, 2022, according to information provided by activists from the Wiasna human rights center founded by Alas Bialiatski, Nobel Peace Prize winner. Viasna reported that the executed man was Viktar Skrundzik, convicted of the murder of two people. Skrundzik was sentenced to death in March 2020, two accomplices of this crime were sentenced to 22 years and 18 years in prison, respectively.

After Skrundzik’s appeal in June 2020, the Belarusian Supreme Court annulled the verdict and sent the case back for retrial, the human rights center reported. In 2021, the Minsk district court again sentenced Skrundzik to the death penalty, also upholding the other two sentences for the accomplices. The defendant’s lawyers appealed again, and this time the appeal was rejected.

Minsk Supreme CourtShutterstock

A man convicted of murder

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According to the findings of the investigation and the trial, Skrundzik, acting together with two other men, was to kill two men and attempt to kill an 85-year-old woman.

According to the prosecution, they attacked lonely pensioners in order to extort money from them for alcohol. They beat and strangled them, then set their houses on fire to cover up the traces of the crime. Investigators determined that both elderly men had been burned alive.

The perpetrators tried to commit one more crime, but the victim managed to save himself.

Death penalty in Belarus

Belarus is the only country in Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States where the death penalty is still carried out. So far, it was provided for the most serious crimes. In 2022, changes in the Belarusian law made it possible to impose the highest penalty for “attempting to commit an act of terrorism”. It is also planned to introduce the possibility of the death penalty for “high treason”.

Women and men over 65 and under 18 cannot be sentenced to the maximum penalty. The sentence is carried out by shooting.

According to estimates by human rights defenders, around 400 executions have been carried out since the establishment of independent Belarus. Human rights defenders have no information about executions in 2022, which does not mean, however, that the sentence or sentences were not carried out. Activists claim that monitoring in this case is very difficult. They usually learn about the execution of the sentences from relatives of the convicts, who are notified in writing after the execution of the sentences (sometimes after several months have elapsed).

The European Union, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and international human rights organizations have repeatedly appealed to the Belarusian authorities to abolish the death penalty or introduce a moratorium.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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