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Outrage over unfair trial and executions in Belarus

"These executions are a further illustration of the total absence of an independent judiciary in Belarus, since the guilt of the two young men has not been clearly established and the trial was not fair"

FIDH strongly condemns the execution of two young men after a blatantly unfair trial

On 16 March 2012, Dzmitry Kanavalau and Uladzislau Kavaliou were executed, two days after President Lukashenka rejected their request for clemency.

The two men had been condemned to death on 30 November 2011 on charges of plotting a powerful blast in the Minsk underground in April 2011.

"These executions are a further illustration of the total absence of an independent judiciary in Belarus, since the guilt of the two young men has not been clearly established and the trial was not fair. These capital shootings look like a way to silence two disturbing witnesses", said Souhayr Belhassen, President of FIDH. 

Both men were arrested on 12 April 2011, as the main suspects in orchestrating the explosion which killed 15 people in a metro station of Minsk, situated within 100m of the presidential administration building. Dzmitry Kanavalau and Uladzislau Kavaliou were also accused of organizing explosions in Vitebsk and Minsk in 2005 and 2008. 

Conflicting testimonies in the course of the trial cast doubt on the defendants’ involvement in organizing the blasts. Dzmitry Kanavalau recanted his earlier testimony in which he had admitted his connection to the various blasts, arguing that he had confessed to those crimes under psychological pressure and torture. Moreover, observers reported serious procedural violations during the preliminary investigation and the judicial examination of the case, sufficient to constitute a blatant infringement on the defendants’ rights to a transparent and impartial trial. Neither the motive nor the exact circumstances of the crime were ever established in Court. In addition, the elements of proof on which both men were condemned have now been destroyed by the court. 

"Belarus is the very last country in Europe to use the death penalty. 70% of the countries worldwide are abolitionist in law or in practice. With these executions, the authorities of Belarus have unfortunately chosen to go contrary to this global progressive trend", added Souahyr Belhassen. 
FIDH calls on the Belarusian authorities to abolish the death penalty for all crimes and to adopt an immediate moratorium on the imposition and execution of the death penalty.


Outrage over unfair trial and executions in Belarus

It was learned on 17 March 2012 that Dzmitry Kanavalau and Uladzislau Kavalyou, the two men sentenced to death in connection with the Minsk subway explosion in April 2011, had been executed.

The Belarusian authorities thus ignored the requests of representatives of the European Union and international human rights groups, and demonstrated their rejection of universally accepted principles of humanism and disregard for international law.

We believe the death penalty to be absolutely unacceptable. Such type of punishment is irreversible, brutal, inhumane and degrading. The execution of Kavalyou and Kanavalau is yet another symbol of the medieval despotism of the dictator regime of Aliaksandr Lukashenka. This is a regime without an independent judicial system, trials which cover up the unlawful actions of the Belarusian authorities, endless human rights violations, and cases of politically motivated and still unsolved abduction of several political opponents of Lukashenka.

Members of the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and influential international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and FIDH, have condemned the execution.  They cite a number of well-founded reasons for concern regarding the fairness of the trial.

The men were executed despite the request from the UN Human Rights Committee to take no action until they had examined the appeal and despite the lack of a ruling on the final appeal stage in Belarus.  The Belarusian authorities did not fully allow the men their constitutional rights and demonstrated ignorance of both domestic legislation and international agreements.

We are calling on the Belarusian authorities to respect human dignity and to return the bodies of the executed men to their families.

We also urge Aliaksandr Lukashenka to immediately issue a moratorium on the death penalty.
We are calling on the European Union to consolidate their efforts and to take further steps needed to ensure that the Lukashenka regime respects human rights and the fundamental principles of democracy.

Andrei Abozau, Belarusian Tribunal

Anna Bialas, Eastern Correspondent

Halyna Coynash, Kharkiv Human Rights Group

Dmitry Savelov,

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