Updated at 11:56,07-12-2016

Interior Minister Confirms Two Executions

Interior Minister Anatol Kulyashow on Friday confirmed that two death row inmates had been executed by shooting in March.

Amnesty International said last week that Andrey Zhuk, 25, and Vasil Yuzepchuk, 30, had been executed in Minsk on March 18.

When asked by BelaPAN as to why the death sentences had been carried out despite a formal request by the UN Human Rights Committee for postponing the executions until it considered the convicts' complaints, Mr. Kulyashow replied, "I don't live according to the UN laws. I live according to my country's laws. Our laws have priority. When we discuss, consider all these requests, we will observe them then. Today we live within the framework of our laws rather than standards brought from outside."

The minister said that the government was considering a moratorium on capital punishment or its complete abolition. "But I cannot name the exact date of a decision on the matter," he noted.
There are no death row convicts in Belarus at present, Mr. Kulyashow said.

Mr. Zhuk was sentenced to death in July 2009 over the murder of two employees of a farming company in the Salihorsk district, Minsk region, earlier that year.

His two accomplices were sentenced to prison terms. Mr. Zhuk was found guilty of murdering the two men to steal payroll money in their car.

Mr. Yuzepchuk was sentenced to death in June last year. The Brest Regional Court found him guilty of murdering and robbing six old women in villages in the Drahichyn district.

Amnesty International said earlier that the investigation and trial in both cases had been flawed.
In a statement, the UN Human Rights Committee deplored the executions, noting that they came "despite the fact that requests for interim measures of protection had been issued by the Committee."

The executions have been denounced by representatives of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, the European Parliament and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and also by international human rights organizations.