Two death convicts, Alyaksei Mikhalenya and Viktar Lyotau, have been recently executed, according to Vyachaslau Sukharko, another death row inmate whose appeal was heard at the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
The three shared the same cell on death row in detention center No. 1 in Minsk.
“On the night of May 15 to 16, Mikhalenya and Lyotau were taken out of their cell and never returned,” the human rights centre Viasna quotes him. They were definitely executed, he concluded.
33-year-old Alyaksei Mikhalenya was sentenced to death for killing two pensioners who lived next door. The crime was committed in March, 2016 in the Belarusian town of Narovlya. The defendant had previously been convicted of robbery and murder.
Viktar Lyotau was convicted in September 2017 by the Vitsebsk Regional Court for killing his cellmate in the penal colony.
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.
Four persons are currently on death row in Belarus, including Vyachaslau Sukharko and Alyaksandr Zhylnikau, whose appeal is being considered today.