Amnesty International calls on Belarus to commute death sentences of Kostseu brothers
Amnesty International has launched an urgent action in support of Stanislau and Illia Kostseu, death row prisoners in Belarus. It calls on its members worldwide to write to the authorities of Belarus urging them to commute the death sentences.
"While not seeking to excuse the crime committed or downplay the suffering caused, no state should resort to the death penalty, whatever the crime. The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment – including for the family of those sentenced – and has no place in any criminal justice system today," Amnesty International says in an open letter to Henadz Davydzka, chair of the Parliament's human rights commission and chair of the parliamentary group on death penalty abolition.
The appeal stresses that the death penalty in Belarus is "not only a punishment for the convicted but also for their families, who receive no notification about the time or place of execution."
"To receive a letter from them one day and then soon after to receive a document stating that the execution took place is the cruellest thing,’ the convicts' sister, Hanna, has said publicly.
After the murder, the Kostseu family have faced regular threats and harassment and Hanna Kotseu’s children were bullied at school. Eventually, the family had to leave their hometown of Čerykaŭ.
Despite mounting domestic and international pressure, Belarus remains the only country in Europe and Central Asia which continues to apply the death penalty. In addition to Stanislau and Illia Kostseu, three other prisoners are believed to be on death row in Belarus.
Meanwhile, the appeal hearing in the Kostseu case earlier set for April 24 has been postponed to May 22.
Stanislau and Illia Kostseu were sentenced to death at a visiting session of the Mahilioŭ Regional Court held on January 10 in the town of Čerykaŭ. Judge Mikhail Melnikau found the two brothers, aged 21 and 19, respectively, guilty of killing their former school teacher and neighbor.