Andrei Zhuk's case
Sentenced to death on July 17, 2009 by the Minsk Regional Court.
October 27, 2009 the Justice Board for Criminal Cases of the Supreme Court considered the appeals of A. Zhuk, I. Sarokin and V. Marozau and left the verdict of the Minsk Regional Court unchanged, thereby dismissing the appeals.
October 30, 2009, the UN Human Rights Committee registered an individual communication regarding the violation of the civil rights of the death row convict Andrei Zhuk. In accordance with the rules of procedure, the Human Rights Committee requested the government not to carry out the death sentence against Zhuk until his complaint was considered on its merits.
Nevertheless, in violation of its undertakings Belarus executed the convict, probably on March 18, 2010.
Andrei Zhuk's case was considered by the Human Rights Committee at the 109th session (October 14 – November 1, 2013). The Committee concluded that the death verdict to Mr. Zhuk and its enforcement did not meet the requirements of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights , whose Art. 6 (right to life), Art. 7 (prohibition of torture and inhuman treatment), Art. 9 (right to liberty and security) and Art. 14 (right to a fair trial and the presumption of innocence) were violated.
February 27, 2009, there was committed a robbery of the car of an agrarian firm that was carrying wages. Both of the company's employees who were in the car were killed. The attackers stole the money and fled. March 1, 2009, A. Zhuk, I. Sarokin and V. Marozau were detained on suspicion of committing the crime. All of them were found guilty.
A. Zhuk was found guilty of crimes under parts 1, 12, 15 of Art. 139 (murder committed by a group of persons), part 2 of Art. 205 (theft committed repeatedly), part 3 of Art. 207 (robbery), part 3 of Art. 294 (theft of firearms), part 1 of Art. 328 (illegal drug trafficking) of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus. On the basis of part 4 of Article 328 of the Criminal Code he was sentenced to death with property confiscation for multiple offenses, by absorption of less severe punishment by the more severe one.
Significant violations during the investigation and the circumstances of the case that weren't considered by the court and/or influenced the verdict
- A. Zhuk was taken to the police department at 9.30 p.m. on March 1. A narcotic drug was discovered during his detention and, as it was stated at the trial, he was under the influence of drugs. Accordingly, the preliminary investigation body was to have first of all taken measures to check the extent to which A. Zhuk could adequately perceive the essence of the actions related to him. Nevertheless, he wasn't sent for medical examination.
- The interrogation of A. Zhuk as a suspect started at 10.02 p.m. on March 1 and ended at 12.37 a.m. on March 2. This investigative action was held in the night time, which is prohibited by part 2 of Art. 192 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
- All process documents that were presented to A. Zhuk for information (the minutes of the detention, the detention report and the decision on recognizing him a suspect) didn't specify the article of the Criminal Code under which he was suspected. The legal advice prior to the first interrogation lasted only 5 minutes (10.02 to 10.07 p.m.), which can be regarded not as an effective method of protection, but just as a mere formality. Moreover, explanations were taken from A. Zhuk during the first day of the detention in the absence of a lawyer, though he insisted on his presence, which is reflected in the report.
- As early as the following day, March 2, A. Zhuk was taken out for an investigative action, verification of the testimony on the spot, being unable to prepare for defense. In accordance with the rules of admissibility of evidence (Part 3 of Article 105 of the Criminal Procedure Code), such evidence should be deemed inadmissible, as it was obtained in violation of the constitutional rights and freedoms. However, the court found this evidence credible and put it in the basis of the judgment and its conclusions.
- Having filed an inquiry with remand prison №1 of the Minsk City Corrections Department of the MIA, the lawyer received a document – a copy of the sheets of the medical outpatient card of A. Zhuk that was composed when he was taken to prison №8 in Žodzina for detention there. As it follows from this document, Andrei Zhuk had bodily injuries when he was taken to prison. During the consideration of his cassation appeals at the cassation instance of the Supreme Court he explained that these injuries had been inflicted by the police officers who beat him during the detention on March 1, 2009.
- As specified in the charges that were presented to Andrei Zhuk, he had an original intent and the purpose of committing a robbery, and in the course of the attack he killed the victims in order to suppress their resistance. Z. Zhuk agreed with this and pleaded guilty. However, in sentencing the court concluded that Zhuk had had the intent to take the lives of the two people even before the incident of February 27. Thus, the defendant had no opportunity to defend himself at court on more serious charges – in fact, A. Zhuk learned about these circumstances of the accusation only during the delivery of the verdict.
- The court was pressurized by senior officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In particular, the Interior Minister Navumau called A. Zhuk and other persons involved in the case “criminals” in his interview on March 2, 2009, long before the delivery of the verdict.