Viasna issues statement on death sentences to Vasil Yuzepchuk and Andrei Zhuk
The Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus has considered the appeals by Vasil Yuzepchuk (against the verdict by Brest Regional Court of 29 June 2009) and Andrei Zhuk (against the verdict by Minsk Regional Court of 29 June 2009) and resolved to uphold the decisions, thereby legalizing both the sentences.
Belarusian human rights activists have expressed their deep concern over the possible execution of the death penalties.
According to the convicts’ legal advisors, the verdict by Brest Regional Court was based on conjectures, resulting from evidence by the police, with no direct proofs at all. Mr. Yuzepchuk was reportedly beaten while in pre-trial prison and the traumas were registered. Apart from that, according to a report by a board of experts, the convict has a light mental deficiency. Therefore, the human rights activists have a strong doubt that the death penalty is too severe and groundless punishment. There are several extenuating circumstances: Andrei Zhuk admitted his guilt, cooperated with the investigators and repented of the offence.
The experts think that delivering death sentences as a result of trials, which failed to comply with the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including the right to a fair trial, is an arbitrary deprivation of a human life.
Vasil Yuzepchuk has submitted an individual complaint with the UN Human Rights Committee, claiming that his rights were violated, including the right to a fair trial and the right to life. On 12 October the Committee registered Mr. Yuzepchuk’s complaint under #1906/2009 and ordered the Belarusian authorities to suspend executing the death sentence before consideration of the case on the merits.
Belarusian human rights activists call upon the Belarusian authorities not to execute the death sentences to Vasil Yuzepchuk and Andrei Zhuk, and demand to take prompt measures to abolish the death penalty in Belarus.