Unbelievable: Lukashenka pardons two brothers sentenced to death – HRC Viasna

Illya Kostseu (21) and Stanislau Kostseu (19), who were sentenced to death in January 2020, have been pardoned, human rights centre Viasna reports with reference to the family.

“On April 30, the administration of pre-trial detention centre No. 1 in Minsk, which houses the country’s only death row, refused to accept a parcel from the prisoners’ family, saying that the prison had received a pardon paper from the presidential office. As a result, the two death convicts will no longer be held on death row, but are expected to be transferred to a regular prison in Zhodzina,” the statement reads.

It should be noted that the family has not received any official documents confirming the above information.

The two brothers were sentenced to death on January 10, 2020, after Mahiliou regional court found them guilty of killing their former schoolteacher and setting fire to her house. In May, the Supreme Court upheld the death sentences. The Kostseus are known to have appealed for clemency to Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

Belarus remains the only country in Europe that still applies capital punishment. The West has repeatedly called on the Belarusian authorities to join a global moratorium as a first step towards the abolition of death penalty.

The exact number of executions in Belarus is unknown, but local human rights defenders and journalists have worked tirelessly to uncover some information about death sentences and executions. According to the Belarusian Justice Ministry, 245 people were sentenced to death from 1994 to 2014. Human rights NGOs believe that around 400 people have been executed since the country gained its independence in 1991; according to them, Alyaksandr Lukashenka has granted a pardon to only one convict in the course of his presidency.

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