Supreme Court confirms death verdict to Ryhor Yuzepchuk
In July 2012, two inmates held at Mahiliou prison murdered their cellmate. The guilty verdict came on April 25, 2013 at Mahiliou Regional Court. One of the prisoners, Ryhor Yuzepchuk, was sentenced to capital punishment. The sentence was later appealed to the Supreme Court.
According to the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, the Supreme Court eventually rejected Yuzepchuk’s appeal and upheld the death sentence.
The BHC experts earlier petitioned the Supreme Court with their opinion on the case, in which they suggested replacing the death penalty with life imprisonment.
It is especially alarming that the murder was committed in a situation where all the three inmates were under the full control of the prison administration.
As reported in the “Secrets of Investigation” (a TV program broadcast by the state-run Belarus-1 Channel), before committing the murder the accomplices taped the peephole of the cell with a piece of newspaper. A warder was expected to regularly monitor the situation in the cells through the peephole. That night the officer saw the newspaper and several times required to remove it. Later, this requirement was met. However, prison officers failed to check the cell and entered it only in the morning to find a dead body.
Upon a request from the BHC, the Department of Corrections of the Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that the incident was investigated by an internal inspection. As a result, appropriate disciplinary actions were taken.
Thus, we can assume that some of the responsibility for what happened lies with the prison staff.
This argument was also cited in the BHC’s amicus curiae, however, as it turned out, had no influence on the decision of the Supreme Court.
Source: Belarusian Helsinki Committee