Another execution in Belarus: court verdict against Ryhor Yuzepchuk carried out

2014 2014-05-12T18:46:46+0300 2014-05-13T20:14:46+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Ryhor Yuzepchuk

Ryhor Yuzepchuk

Mahilyou regional court informed that Ryhor Yuzepchuk has been executed. 45-year-old man was sentenced to death for killing his cellmate. The cellmate allegedly gambled away his life in domino game.


The death sentence to Ryhor Yuzepchyk was delivered on 25 April 2013, but did cause any considerable public outcry. The reason was the lack of information about the case and the identity of the murderer. For a long time, the authorities did not make even the name of the condemned person public.


Why system is silent about death executions?


On 25 April 2013, Mahilyou regional court sentenced Ryhor Yuzepchuk to death penalty. The case was heard at Mahilyou SIZO (investigative detention centre), and the hearing was closed for the public. The Supreme court upheld the verdict.


The Mahilyou court confirmed to “Nasha Niva” newspaper that Yuzepchuk had been executed.

The date of execution and place where the body is buried are kept secret. The Ministry of Internal Affairs classified this information as “for official use only.”


Human rights defender Andrei Paluda who has an experience of serving in police says that the veil of secrecy around death penalty belongs to the Soviet legacy. “This is practice of the NKVD (National Commissariat of Internal Affairs in 1920-1940s) to shoot people in thousands. History of Kurapaty is an example. The instructions of that time were to hide numbers of the executed, and not to inform the public about their identities and reasons for execution – these instructions survived until present times. Bodies of the executed are not given back to their relatives. Relatives are not informed about the place where the man is buried. And the public is not informed even about the fact of execution – until human rights defenders and mass raise profiles of these cases. And the officials keep saying: death penalty deters criminals. Why they do not speak about executions then?”


International human rights organisation Amnesty International made a relevant inquiry to the Belarusian authorities. The answer was that no one was executed in 2013. It allows assume that Yuzepchuk was executed this year.


According to the former head of Minsk SIZO №1 Aleh Alkaeu, the execution squad is usually gets together to carry out several executions at a time.So, Ryhor Yuzepchuk could have been executed together with Pavel Seliun. The advocate of the latter was informed bout his execution on 18 April, though there have been no official notification yet,” Paluda notes. 


Who is on the death row in Belarus?


In April, with two days, the Supreme Court upheld two death penalties – to 26-year-old Aliaksandr Grunou from Homiel for a cruel killing of a female student, and to 54-year-old Eduard Lykau for killing five persons in nine years.


Grunou has sent a request for pardon to Lukashenka, and a communication to the UN Human Rights Committee. Whereabouts of Lykau are less known. Like yuzepchuk, he did not have a permanent place of residence. The hearing at the Supreme Court was attended by his stepdaughter and advocate. But they avoid contacts both with human rights defenders and journalists.


On 18 April, in became known that 23-year-old history student of the Belarusian State University Pavel Sialiun was executed in the name of the state.  He was sentenced for killing his wife and her lover. Hrodna regional court which made the verdict has not yet sent an official notification to Seliun’s mother. However, during her meeting with Deputy Chair of the Supreme Court execution of the Pavel was confirmed.  


Human rights defenders say that taking into account secrecy around the death penalty, the total number of death executions in the history of sovereign Belarus is not known. “We only have statistics about sentences. During the period from 1990 to 2013, 328 persons were sentenced to death in Belarus,” Andrei Paluda says.