Hardly believable: Death sentence mitigated in Belarus

On June 30, the Supreme Court of Belarus has upheld the appeal of Viktar Skrundzik, a resident of Slutsk district. The criminal case will be sent to Minsk Regional Court and reviewed, human rights centre Viasna reports.

Viktar Skrundzik in court:
Photo: spring96.org

In 2019, Viktar Skrundzik, together with Valyantsin Bushnin and Vitaly Metezh, burned several pensioners alive and stole their money. According to the verdict, the men committed the crime in a state of intoxication. In February 2020, the court passed a death sentence on Skrundzik, but today it has been reversed. The reasons for the revision have not been reported.

In his appeal, Viktar Skrundzik pointed out the incorrect choice of the measure of restraint as well as violations of Belarusian and international procedural norms that occurred during the investigation. He also asked to re-define the charge and mitigate the sentence.

According to his defence lawyer, Skrundzik is quite young and heavy charges had not been previously brought against him.

Belarusian authorities consider death penalty moratorium
2019.08.28 03:52

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 Ministry of Justice of Belarus, 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; president Alyaksandr Lukashenka granted a pardon to only one convict.