[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Feb 9 14:21:45 CST 2008
Amnesty International, Belarusian Helsinki Committee condemn executions of
convicts in Belarus
Amnesty International and the Belarusian Helsinki Committee have condemned
the recent executions of convicts in Belarus.
On February 5, the Supreme Court of Belarus announced that Syarhey
Marozaw, the leader of a Homyel-based criminal gang, and his close
associates, Valery Harbaty and Ihar Danchanka, had been executed by
shooting. The 3 were sentenced to death by shooting in a months-long trial
that came to an end on December 1, 2006. The so-called Marozaw Gang, which
was said to have terrorized the Homyel region between 1990 and 2004, was
accused of 16 murders.
"Amnesty International and the Belarusian Helsinki Committee oppose the
death penalty in all cases, without exception," the human rights watchdogs
say in their joint statement. "The death penalty is the ultimate denial of
human rights the premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being
by the state in the name of justice."
Scientific studies have consistently failed to find convincing evidence
that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than other
punishments, the statement says.
Amnesty International and the Belarusian Helsinki Committee have urged the
Belarusian authorities to immediately inform the families of the convicts
about the dates and places of execution and burial, and to allow them to
collect the prisoners' remains and any personal effects.
In October 2007, the Supreme Court of Belarus handed down sentences to 5
members of the Marozaw Gang, including Messrs. Marozaw and Danchanka, on
new charges, again sentencing the 2 to death by shooting. The Court then
sentenced to prison 2 other members who fled to Russia after the opening
of the case and were arrested later.
5 police officers, including the chief of the regional criminal
investigation department, were convicted by the Supreme Court in the case
earlier. A total of 46 people then stood trial.
The police are currently searching for a former prosecutor of the Homyel
region in connection with the gang's crimes.
Meanwhile, the Chyhunachny District Court in Homyel is to hear charges
against six more alleged members of the Marozaw Gang. More than 130 people
are witnesses in the case.
Belarus is the only country in Europe and the post-Soviet region that
still executes prisoners. The Belarusian authorities have preserved the
death penalty for "premeditated, aggravated murder" and 12 other peacetime
There are no data available about the number of executions in 2007. In
November, the Supreme Court reported the execution of Alyaksandr
Syarheychyk, a police officer convicted of 6 murders.
Henadz Navitski, chairman of the upper parliamentary house, said in March
2007 that the number of death sentences passed in Belarus decreased from
47 in 1998 to 13 in 1999, 4 in 2003, 2 in 2005 and 2 in 2006.
Interior Minister Uladzimir Navumaw said in late 2004 that five people had
been sentenced to death and executed in Belarus that year. "In the last 5
years, no more than 7 people have been sentenced to death annually, which
is much less than 1 % of all people convicted of grave crimes," the
minister said. "1/3 of the 104 people currently serving life sentences say
they would prefer the death penalty," he added.
The death penalty was abolished thrice in the country since 1912 but was
always been restored again. More than 80 % of those who took part in a
1996 national referendum reportedly voted against abolishing the death
penalty. In 2006, the government enacted an amendment to the Criminal
Code, which indicated the temporary nature of the use of the death penalty
Executions in Belarus are carried out by a gunshot to the back of the
head. Neither the condemned nor relatives are told of the scheduled date
of the execution, and the relatives are not informed of where the body is
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