Updated at 01:25,03-03-2021

Belarus Executes Convicted Murderer, Rights Group Says

RFE/RL

Belarus has executed a convicted murderer, the Minsk-based human rights group Vyasna (Spring) says.

Vyasna cited relatives of Syamyon Berazhny as saying on November 27 that they had been officially informed that the 31-year-old was executed by shooting.

Belarus is the only country in Europe and the former Soviet Union that executes prisoners, drawing persistent criticism from rights activists and EU nations.

Berazhny and three codefendants were convicted of murder and kidnapping in July 2017, after investigators said they were members of a gang that killed elderly homeowners in order to acquire their apartments or houses.

Berazhny and one of his co-defendants, Ihar Hershankou, were sentenced to death and the other two were sentenced to 22 and 24 years in prison.

In June, the Supreme Court suspended the implementation of the death sentences against Berazhny and Hershankou amid calls by rights organizations not to execute the men.

Amnesty International, which had earlier raised concerns about the planned executions, praised the Supreme Court decision at the time.

The European Union and rights groups have urged Belarus for years to join other countries in a moratorium on the death penalty.

According to rights organizations, more than 400 people have been sentenced to death in Belarus since it gained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Two convicts were reportedly executed in May.