|Death verdict is handed down to Siarhei Vostrykau (right) on May 19, 2016|
On Tuesday, October 4, the Supreme Court has upheld the death verdict handed down to 33-year-old Siarhei Vostrykau in May. This is the third death penalty in Belarus this year.
The convict was found giulty of four fellonies – murder, rape, sexual assault, and theft – and sentenced to execution by a firing squad.
The announcement of the verdict was attended by a number of Belarusian and international human rights activists. “Siarhei Vostrykau took the decision of the Supreme Court without emotion. The judge asked if he understood the decision, he said that he did”, Andrei Paluda, one of them, said.
No other circumstances of today’s court hearing are known to the human rights defenders, as it was held behind closed doors. The court refused to clarify the reasons for the decision.
On May 19 the Homieĺ Regional Court sentenced Siarhei Vostrykau to death on charges of two separate cases of rape and murder.
The first crime was committed by the accused in July 2014, when his colleague Alesya Panteleyeva, 25, went missing. Almost a year later, in May 2015, polive announced the search of another girl, 27-year-old Alevtina Mashurikova. The victim was an employee of the same enterprise, where Alesya had worked.
As it turned out, Vostrykau had offered both girls a ride home after work, but instead had brough the victims to his garage where he raped and killed them. He then buried the bodies in the woods.
He had also been accused of theft in 2007. Having served half of his three-year term, the man was released early with community works.
The convict is married, and has a 3-year-old son.
This is the third death sentence passed in Belarus since the beginning of this year. On 5 January 2016 Henadz Yakavitski, repeatedly convicted of various criminal offenses, was found giulty of killing his partner with extreme cruelty and sentenced to death. On 15 February the Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence handed down to Siarhei Khmialeuski for the brutal murder of several people.
Belarus is the only country in Europe still applying death penalty. This is one of the main reasons why the country can not regain its special guest status in PACE. The Council of Europe and other international organizations have many times called on the Belarusian authorities to introduce a moratorium on capital punishment.
Since 1990 over 400 people were sentenced to death penalty in Belarus. In 26 years only one person had his death sentence commuted.
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