Updated at 15:34,14-12-2017

Another death sentence handed down in Belarus

Naviny.by / BelaPAN

The Vyasna Human Rights Center has reported that another death sentence has recently been handed down in Belarus.

According to the center, Eduard Lykov, a citizen of Russia, was sentenced to death by the Minsk Regional Court on November 26 on charges of five counts of murder while intoxicated.

The 53-year-old Lykov, who had been under investigation since 2011, is known to have had no permanent residence and maintained no contact with his son living in Russia and his daughter living in Germany, but regular contact with his mother, a resident of Baranavichy, Brest region.

This case is another proof that authorities conceal information about death sentences and executions from the public, comments Andrey Paluda, coordinator of a campaign titled, "Human Rights Defenders against the Death Penalty in Belarus."

"Officials frequently say that few people are executed in Belarus, but since there is no public information as to who has been put to death, and since all this information is concealed from the public, it is difficult to refer to any figures and determine how many people have actually been executed in Belarus on behalf of the state," Mr. Paluda says.

Three death sentences are known to have been imposed in Belarus earlier this year. Two of them were upheld by the Supreme Court of Belarus, including the death penalty for a 43-year-old inmate of a Mahilyow prison, who is believed to have murdered a cellmate who had lost a game of dominoes to him, with the stake being life, and the death penalty for a 23-year-old man who was found guilty of brutally murdering his wife and her alleged lover in Hrodna.

The third death sentence, which was imposed on a 25-year-old Homyel man for murdering a young woman by stabbing her 102 times with a knife, was unexpectedly annulled by the Supreme Court, which ruled on October 22 that the case should be remanded to the trial court for retrial.

The man had previously been convicted of inflicting grievous bodily harm to his stepfather, which resulted in his death.

Belarus is the only country in Europe and the post-Soviet region where the death sentence remains a sentencing option and prisoners are executed. The European Union and international organizations have repeatedly called on the Belarusian government to abolish the death penalty or impose a moratorium on it.

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 buried.

Alyaksandr Lukashenka is known to have granted clemency to only one death row inmate since he was elected president in 1994. In June 2003, Dzmitry Kharkhal had his death sentence commuted to a 15-year prison term after more than a year on death row.

According to human rights defenders, no one is known to have been executed in Belarus this year. At least three were executed last year, two in 2011, two in 2010, no one in 2009, at least four in 2008 and at least one in 2007. As many as 46 people were executed in the country in 1995, the same number in 1997 and 47 in 1998.