Paris, 19 March 2012 – 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.