Executioners – professional killers acting on behalf of the state

2016 2016-01-30T19:58:11+0300 2016-01-30T19:58:11+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

In countries where the death penalty is applied, there is an institution of legal killers who commit premeditated murder. All information on the enforcement of the death penalty in Belarus is a state secret. However, the former head of Minsk remand prison No. 1 Aleh Alkayeu described in detail how and by whom the work is performed. Here's an excerpt from his book "Firing Squad":

“The “firing squad” has an official name: "The special group to enforce the death penalty". It is written so in the MIA instruction that regulates this kind of activity. The number of members and the composition of the group are defined by the instruction and the tasks it has to perform. The group that was headed by me consisted of thirteen people. Apart from the direct participants of the “execution” process, it included a medic and a representative of the MIA. The medic's tasks were far from being medical – he just registered the death of the executed, whereas the MIA representative implemented the control and registration functions. The main state body that supervised the activities of the “firing squad” was the prosecutor, appointed by the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Belarus.

That prosecutor is the chief executive, controlling the administration of justice in strict accordance with the law. Only the prosecutor is not a member of the group to enforce the death penalty. All other members of the group are selected by its head and are then approved by the leadership of the police department of Minsk (formerly) or the Ministry of Interior (today).

The division of responsibilities among the members of the group lies on its head. He picks at least two executioners and at least three professional drivers. Personally, I have sought the universality of the members of my group, where everyone could perform any task, including the enforcement of the sentence. For obvious reasons, I can not disclose the personal composition of the group and talk about each of its members.
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The group was formed of physically strong men with a stable psyche and strong nerves. As a rule, they were chosen from among the personnel of the remand prison. However, it was also allowed to engage other citizens for security purposes. All members of the group working engaged in the performance of their normal duties during their working hours.
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After the formulation of the task, a part of the personnel were taken to the place of execution by special transport and prepared the place for meeting those who were to be executed. The other part of the group returned to the remand prison and led the convicted out of the cell, took them in the car and drove them to the place of execution according to the documents that were received from me.
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After the delivery of the prisoners to the place of execution they are placed under tight security in a specially equipped cell. When a person is fully prepared for the execution of the sentence, the prosecutor, the head of the special group (head of the remand prison) and the MIA representatives take their places at a small desk in a special room adjacent to the room where the convicted are executed. The personal files of prisoners lie on the table.
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After the last words of the prosecutor, the head of the special groups orders his subordinates to "escort" the man to death. A bandage is put on his eyes so that he couldn't orient himself in space, after which he is taken to the specially equipped room, where an executioner with a pistol is waiting for him. At the signal of the executioner, two members of the group put the man on his knees in front of the special bullet-trap shield, after which the executioner shoots at the back of his head.
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Probably, it would be difficult to believe in the sincerity of my words, but I personally felt a great disgust towards the procedure of execution. I also know that almost all members of the special group had the same feeling.
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Usually, the convicted are taken for execution in groups of 3-5 people, but sometimes there are also individual executions. Everything depends on the manner of work of the Pardon Commission under the President and, of course, the president himself. After the execution of the convicted their bodies are packed in plastic bags and are taken to the place of the burial. As the place of the burial is a secret, I won't tell anything else on this subject.
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As an example, I can draw a technical invention that was used by our Georgian colleagues at the time when the death penalty was still applied in their country. The convicted person was laid face down on the floor in the special room, and his head hung over a special manhole. In such a position, the executioner couldn't make a precise shot into the cerebellum. In order to facilitate his “work” and ensure the accurateness of the shot, a member of the firing squad used a hoop-net for lifting the head of the convicted person to the desired level, after which the executioner produced an aimed shot.
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Returning to the question of the people who are members of the special group, I would say that all of them are worthy of respect for performing the most menial and thankless job in the world. In doing so they risk their reputation, social status and getting the medieval stigma of "executioner”, long-forgotten in a normal society. 

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