Belarus the secret executions in europe’s ‘last dictatorship’ – bbc news gaz 67b for sale


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.

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".

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 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. Image copyright Viasna Image caption

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.

"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."

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.

"More and more people are speaking against the death penalty," said Andrei Paluda, co-ordinator of the campaign Human Rights Defenders against the Death Penalty in Belarus. "But the government is using the fact that it’s the last European country where the death penalty is applied in order to force European countries to negotiate."

Gennady Yakovitsky‘s lawyer appealed to the Supreme Court against his conviction, arguing the trial had not been fair and his guilt had not been unequivocally established. He was quoted as saying vital evidence had been omitted, including a forensic examination that had found traces of unidentified blood under the victim’s nails.

A month later, his family received a letter by post confirming that the sentence had been carried out. "I didn’t receive his personal belongings, we didn’t see the body," said Alexandra who now campaigns against the death penalty in Belarus.