Another death sentence issued in Belarus
26-year-old Homel resident Aliaksandr Hrunou has been repeatedly sentenced to death. According to the lawyer, the young man does not believe that he can be pardoned by the President, and therefore he is not sure whether he will apply for clemency.
On April 8, the Supreme Court re-heard the appeal of Aliaksandr Hrunou against the death sentence, issued to him by the Homel Regional Court. The young man was charged under Part 6 paragraph 2 of Article 139 of the Criminal Code – murder committed with extreme cruelty.
Story of the murder of a Homel student
September 20, 2012 Aliaksandr Hrunou killed his acquaintance, student Natallia Yemelyanchykava. At trial, he explained that for some time before the meeting she had insulted him in the company of familiar people and did not apologize for it. This was the cause of aggression. As a result, hr inflicted 102 stab wounds to the victim.
This is the brief report which was posted on most websites, but it should be clarified.
Aliaksandr Hrunou was quite well acquainted with the brother of Natallia yemelyanchykava. Both of them took part in skinhead movements. Like Hrunou, Yemelyanchykava's brother had a criminal record. Aliaksandr was an authority for him, they kept contacts and were friends for a certain time.
Most likely, this was the reason why Natallia got in the same company with Aliaksandr. Inadvertently insulted the guy with a word which is very humiliating for the people who have been kept in jail. Natallia's brother, who also had a criminal record and knew about it, told her that she needed to apologize, but she didn't do it.
During interrogation, Aliaksandr Hrunou noted that she would not kill Yemialyanchykava if she apologized to him.
Hrunou's criminal past
It is worth noting that Aliaksandr Hrunou had a criminal record before the murder - for a brutal beating of his mother's roommate, who died as a result. He was sentenced to 8 years in jail for it. Hrunou's mother says tha tthe incident took place during the fight between a stepfather and stepson, they had a personal dislike for each other.
Alexander's life can be hardly called carefree – his father was killed when he was still a child, and the killer hasn't been found. His mother periodically lived with different men and consumed alcohol with them. Later, the son joined the company. It's quite interesting that Natallia Yemialyanchykava's mother took part in such meetings with Hrunova.
At present, there is no mutual understanding between the women. The mother of the killed insisted on the death sentence to Hrunou at every court hearing. During the last hearing she said, addressing the court: “He deserves to be punished with death. I hope that I will not have to address our President on this issue any more.”
It should be noted that yet before the final judgment on the case, A. Lukashenka met with Prosecutor General Kaniuk and stated that Hrunou was to be punished with death.
The trial of the case lasted for more than 1,5 years and took about 20 hearings. The prosecutor immediately requested the maximum penalty – execution by shooting. The Homel Regional Court supported this demand. A. Hrunou ahd his lawyer filed an appeal with the Supreme Court.
At the hearing in the Supreme Court in October, Hrunou's lawyer Siarhei Krasnou emphasized that the criminal legislation of Belarus provided other penalties besides the capital punishment, including imprisonment for a term of 8 to 25 years or life imprisonment.
The defender, referring to the norms of the international legislation and the relevant norms of the national legislation, presented a number of violations, reflected in the case materials, but ignored by the court.
In particular, the lawyer spoke about the violation of the presumption of innocence in relation to his client (Article 26 of the Belarusian Constitution and paragraph 2 of Article 14 of the ICCPR), breach of the principle of equal protection and adversarial proceedings (Article 22 of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus and art.24 of the CCP) and noted the contradictions associated with psychological and psychiatric examination of Mr. Hrunou.
In addition, the lawyer pointed at another thing, which took place immediately after the verdict, and was ignored by everyone: "Even before the sentece of the Judicial Board of the Homel Regional Court entered into force, Hrunou was kept in in solitary confinement on death row in the remand prison of the Main Police Department of the Homel Regional Executive Committee, where he had to wear clothes with the abbreviation "ИМН" (Russian “исключительная мера наказания” (“exceptional penalty” - capital punishment), which means that he was treated as if his fate had already been predetermined...".
The Criminal Division of the Supreme Court sent the case back for retrial in Homel.
According to the lawyer, there were found some circumstances due to which the sentence could be commuted – Aliaksandr cooperated with the investigation, repented, came to the police with a confession. He didn't deny his guilt, but asked to replace the death penalty, so he had the opportunity to repent and pay the moral compensation to Yemialyanchykava's family (the victim's side demanded 300 millions).
However, today the Supreme Court has left in force the death verdict. The decision was taken by Chairman of the Criminal Division Valeryy Kalinkovich, who has repeatedly stated that Belarus is ready to refuse from the death penalty. It's worth noting that he also supported the death sentence to Pavel Seliun in 2013.
Lawyer Siarhei Krasnou says that his client is very depressed and does not want to file a petition for clemency to Lukashenka. “It is very hard to hear the death sentence at court three times, and now he is in a certain desperation”, said the lawyer. “I wonder why the Supreme Court sent the case back for a new trial, and then ignored the new extenuating circumstances that had been discovered at the Homel Regional Court."
The coordinator of the campaign "Human Rights Defenders against the death penalty in Belarus" Andrei Paluda watched the proceedings in Hrunou's case.
"During the whole story of the independent Belarus, President pardoned only one death convict. This explains why the convicted persons often don't believe in this institution. In Hrunou's case the situation is further complicated by the fact that Lukashenka personally stated to Kaniuk that he didn't deserve any pardon, though the Supreme Court hadn't issued any verdict by that time,” says the human rights defender. “However, we received a persmission from Hrunou to appeal to the Human Rights Committee of the UN on his behalf."
As it became known today, the Human Rights Committee of the UN accepted the appeal on behalf of Aliaksandr Hrunou. In accordance with paragraph 92 of the Rules of Procedure of the Committee, the State must not execute the death sentence until the the consideration of the appeal on the merits by the UN.