Court refuses to hear suit by mother of executed man against Corrections Department over denial of information about her son’s place of burial

2010 2010-10-25T13:06:49+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en

The Leninski District Court in Minsk has refused to hear a suit filed by the mother of Andrey Zhuk, a death row inmate executed in March, against the interior ministry’s Corrections Department, which refused to tell her where her son was buried.

The court has notified the plaintiff that the case is beyond its jurisdiction, Brest human rights defender Raman Kuslyak told BelaPAN.

According to him, the woman now plans to file her suit with the Minsk Regional Court.

She insists that by refusing to disclose the location of her son’s grave, the Corrections Department violates Articles 7 and 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which has been ratified by Belarus.

In August, Svyatlana Zhuk sent complaints to the Council of Ministers and the interior minister about not being told where the body of her son was buried. The woman said in her complaints that the denial of this information was inhumane.

Referring to the Criminal Executive Code's Article 175, the interior ministry’s Corrections Department replied that the death penalty “is carried out in private by means of shooting,” and that "the body is not released for burial and the place of burial is not disclosed."

The Neninski District Andrey Zhuk was executed on March 18. In July 2009, the Minsk Regional Court sentenced the 25-year-old man to death over the murder of two employees of a farming company in the Salihorsk district, Minsk region.

His accomplice, 26-year-old Ivan Sarokin, was sentenced to life imprisonment, and 24-year-old Uladzimir Maroz, the getaway driver, to 13 years in prison. According to the prosecution, Zhuk and Sarokin murdered the two men to steal payroll money in their car. The robbery took place on a road near the village of Kryvichy, Salihorsk district, on February 27, 2009, when the two employees of Balshavik Ahra were traveling to the company’s office with more than 62 million rubels (almost $22,000) to be paid in wages to its staff.

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 Belarusian authorities have preserved the death penalty for “premeditated, aggravated murder” and 12 other peacetime offenses.

In 2006, the government enacted an amendment to the Criminal Code, which indicated the temporary nature of the use of the death penalty in Belarus.

The Belarusian authorities do not publish comprehensive statistics on death sentences and executions. At least 248 people are estimated to have been executed in the country since 1990. Two men have been executed and three more have been sentenced to death in Belarus this year.