Amnesty International: Two known prisoners on death row in Belarus at risk of imminent execution
"There is grave concern that the only two known prisoners on death row in Belarus, Aliaksandr Zhylnikau and Viachaslau Sukharko, are at risk of imminent execution," Amnesty International said.
Aliaksandr Zhylnikau and Viachaslau Sukharko were the first two men to be sentenced to death in Belarus in 2018. They are now believed to be the only known men remaining on death row, following the recent executions of Siamion Berazhnoy and Ihar Hershankou. It was, in fact, Aliaksandr Zhylnikau’s family who alerted Belarusian civil society to the probable date of the recent executions. Aliaksandr Zhylnikau told his family that until the night of 19–20 November, he had been sharing a cell with Siamion Berazhnoy who was taken away and didn’t return.
Aliaksandr Zhylnikau and Viachaslau Sukharko were originally sentenced to life imprisonment in March 2017 after being found guilty of the murder of three people in December 2015. In July 2017, following an appeal by the prosecutor, the Supreme Court sent their case back to the lower court for a retrial, which resulted in them being sentenced to death on 20 January 2018. On appeal, Aliaksandr Zhynikau’s lawyer asked for a new forensic examination to be ordered which could prove his innocence in two out of the three murders. The lawyer also asked for a less harsh sentence. Both requests were denied and on 30 May 2018, the Supreme Court upheld Aliaksandr Zhylnikau and Viachaslau Sukharko’s death sentences.
Amnesty International urges people from around the world to write to the Belarusian authorities urging them to:
- Halt the executions of Aliaksandr Zhylnikau and Viachaslau Sukharko;
- Immediately establish an official moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty;
- commute all death sentences to terms of imprisonment.