Updated at 18:07,08-09-2017

This years first death sentence is passed in Belarus

Eurobelarus

On January 5, the Minsk Regional Court pronounced this years first death sentence to Henadz Yakavitski, a resident of the town of Vileika, charged with murder committed with extreme cruelty.

According to the prosecution, he killed his cohabitant in July 2015, HRC Viasna informs.

His first wife, Natallia Bulanava, has told the human rights defenders that Henadz Yakavitski has been repeatedly convicted of various criminal offenses, including 15 years for murder and rape back in 1989.

At the trial, there was only circumstantial evidence of his guilt. When the court interviewed a witness, all he said was I dont remember and I dont know. He was asked if he read the document the investigator gave him during the inspection of the crime scene. He said yes. When it came to some details and facts, the witness said that remembered nothing, says Natallia.

One of the key witnesses in the case, Fiodar Marozau, changed his testimony four times. The investigation revealed that the body had been punched 46 times. Meanwhile, all the witnesses unanimously argued that they had heard around a dozen blows.

I know that Belarus uses the death penalty, and I've always been against it. I believe that people have no right to take the life of another person. If a person has committed a serious offense, if found guilty, he should be sentenced to life imprisonment. In general, I'm surprised that Belarus is the only country in Europe where such laws are still applied, said Henadz Yakavitskis ex-wife.

The sentence has not yet entered into force, and may be appealed to the Supreme Court.