Corruption and imperfect judiciary, the risk of an unfair, biased trial

Any criminal justice system may commit acts of discrimination. Expediency, short-term solutions and the pressure of public opinion – all these factors can affect all stages of the proceedings, starting from the initial investigation and ending with the last-minute decision on clemency. It means that those who will be eventually be put to death may be not really the worst offenders, but only people who were not able to hire the best lawyers, faced harsher prosecutors or judges or weren't defended by the public.

For example, it happened so with the case of lynching in the village of Pukhavičy, where a group murder was committed. The culprits were released from the remand prison on a personal request of the president to the chairman of the Supreme Court and the Minister of the Interior. They stayed at home until the sentencing, despite the request of villagers that a more stringent preventive measure be applied. After the announcement of the verdict, they were pardoned by the president altogether.

In addition to such obvious cases of pressure on justice, there are numerous cases when officers of law enforcement agencies or judges colluded with criminal gangs. The most celebrated cases are the “hunters' case”, “Sviatlana Baikova's case”, the cases of the deputy head of the Kastryčnitski District Court of Mahilioŭ and the deputy head of the Saviecki District Court of Homieĺ, the former deputy head of the Belarusian Military Court, etc.

All these facts indicate that the probability of an unfair trial is much larger that it may seem at the first sight, and in the case of the death penalty  the society may be getting rid not of criminals, but of witnesses of crimes of the law enforcement and judicial system.

Death verdics in Belarus since 1990