Amnesty International launches urgent action in support of death convict Siarhei Khmialeuski
"Siarhei Khmialeuski, who was sentenced to death in Belarus in February, is at imminent risk of execution," Amnesty International said on May 20 urging President Lukashenka to establish an immediate moratorium on executions with a view to abolition of the death penalty.
On 6 May, the Supreme Court of Belarus upheld the death sentence passed by the Minsk Regional Court in February. Siarhei Khmialeuski was found guilty of the murder of at least two people in Minsk region whose charred bodies were found in a private apartment with multiple stab wounds in the neck and head in November 2014. It is believed that a third man, who Siarhei Khmialeuski suspected of witnessing him leaving the apartment, was pushed into a deep pit by Siarhei Khmialeuski and later died of his injuries.
Siarhei Khmialeuski was initially sentenced to life imprisonment but the sentence was later changed to the death penalty at the request of the prosecutor. Siarhei Khmialeuski will now appeal to the President for clemency as his final legal recourse but it is unlikely to be granted. Since President Alyaksandr Lukashenka came to power in 1994, he has granted clemency in only one case. If clemency is denied, Siarhei Khmialeuski could be executed soon after.
In Belarus, death row prisoners are executed with a shot to the back of the head. Families are not given prior notice of the date of execution or granted a final visit. In accordance with Belarusian law, the bodies are not returned to the family for burial nor is the burial site disclosed.
Siarhei Khmialieuski’s legal representatives will file a complaint to the UN Human Rights Committee. However, Belarus continues to ignore requests by the Committee to stay executions while it reviews the case. Since 2010, Belarus has executed eight people whose cases were pending with the Committee, most recently on 18 April when Belarus executed Siarhei Ivanou with whom Siarhei Khmialeuski reportedly shared a cell on death row.
Please write immediately in Belarusian, Russian or your own language:
- Urging President Lukashenka to halt all planned executions in Belarus and immediately commute the death sentence of Siarhei Khmialeuski and all others sentenced to death in Belarus;
- Call on him to establish an immediate moratorium on executions with a view to abolition of the death penalty;
- Urge him to end the secrecy surrounding the death penalty and repeal Article 175 of the Belarusian Criminal Executive Code to allow bodies of executed prisoners to be returned to families for burial or the burial site to be disclosed.