Europe: Please Save My Son from the Death Penalty in Belarus

www.change.org

Petition created by: Liubou Kavalyova (Vitebsk, Belarus)
Petitioning: High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (Catherine Ashton)

On November 30th the Supreme Court of Belarus sentenced my son Uladzislau Kavalyou (Vladislav Kovalev) and another young man Dzmitry Kanavalau (Dmitry Konovalov) to death.

Kanavalau was convicted of organizing the terrorist attacks in 2005 in Vitebsk, in 2008 in Minsk, and in the subway of Minsk in April 2011. My son Uladzislau was convicted of aiding him.

The accusations are based on the statements made by these two young men, which, as many believe, were given under physical and emotional duress. None of what has been said in court is supported by any evidence. My son insists he was not involved in the terrorist attacks and suggested Dzmitry Kanavalau had no relation to them, either.

I believe that my son is innocent.
So do victims of the attack and many international human rights organizations:

– The victims of the attack have a number of questions regarding the impartiality and transparency of the trial and access to the case materials. Aliaksandr Kruty, a representative of one of the injured from the April attack, Inesa Krutaya, made a motion to abolish the death penalty and asked the court to defer consideration of the case. A few days later – on September 20th – he was arrested and sent to a mental hospital allegedly for hooliganism. None of their motions were considered by the court.

– The defendants claimed that they were exposed to torture during the investigation to extract confessions.

– During the trial, independent journalists were banned from communicating with victims. The official media already referred to Kavalyou and Kanavalau as terrorists without awaiting the decision of the court.

With this petition, I am turning to you asking one single thing: I am asking you to not let them kill my son Uladzislau Kavalyou and Dzmitry Kanavalau, but instead to find those who are actually responsible for these terrorist crimes.

At the moment Belarus is the only country in Europe which continues to carry out death sentences. And while these two men await execution, those who are responsible for the attacks walk freely.

Reports and Statements of Human Rights Groups:

Human Rights House: Human rights defenders concerned over trial against terrorism suspects in Belarus

Belarus Human Rights Group “Viasna”: Stop murder – in the name of the people!

Amnesty International: Belarus continues to execute people despite the international pressure, date and time of executions are not made public to the families, bodies never returned.

Sign the petition here.

____

International Business Times
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Belarus Court Sentences Minsk Metro Bombers to Death by Pistol
By Elisha Maldonado

Two men found guilty of setting off a bomb in a Minsk subway station in April, killing 15 people and wounding hundreds, were handed down a death sentence in a Belarus court Wednesday.

Judge Aleksandr Fyodortsov said the defendants, childhood friends Dmitry Konovalov and Vladislav Kovalyov, both 25, “pose an exceptional danger to society and an exceptional penalty should be applied to them.”

Belarus is the only country in Europe where a death penalty remains legal —  it is also the last remaining dictatorship in Europe.  The court ignored complaints from relatives and human rights activists who allege the two factory workers had been framed.

“The court has established that Konovalov carried out an act of terrorism,” Fyodortsov said. “The motives involved an attempt to destabilize the situation and scare people. The court sentences them to the extreme measure of punishment, death by execution.”

Unless the country’s neo-Soviet president, Alexander Lukashenko grants them a pardon — something he has done only once in 16 years — the pair will soon be blindfolded, forced to their knees and executed with a single bullet to the back of their necks in a process that takes less than two minutes, The Daily Telegraph newspaper of Britain reported.

Konovalov and Kovalyov, caged in the courtroom, showed no emotion when the sentence was passed, while others in the courtroom did it for them, booing and yelling that the trial had been a disgrace.

“We have serious concerns that both Dmitry Konovalov and Vladislav Kovalyov were ill-treated in order to force them to confess and that this trial does not stand up to international scrutiny,” said John Dalhusien, Amensty International’s Europe and Central Asia Deputy Program Director.

“Belarus has a flawed justice system and routinely flouts international fair-trial standards, increasing the risk of a miscarriage of justice and of executing an innocent person.”

Since the two were tried by the Supreme Court, the accused have no right of appeal.

Both men were arrested three days after the explosion on a packed platform during the evening rush-hour on April 11, Reuters reported. Konovalov initially admitted to carrying out the attack, but then refused to make a statement or testify in his own defense. Kovalyov recanted his initial confession, saying it was made under duress when he heard his friend being beaten during interrogation.

According to Amnesty, there are reports than an ambulance was called during Konovalov’s interrogation. Furthermore, Amnesty reported, no forensic evidence linking either man to the explosion was found, nor were there any traces of explosives found on their person.

The bombing followed a brutal government crackdown on the opposition and came as the country slipped even further into an economic crisis.

Kovalyov’s mother, Lyubov, who has led a campaign to save the two men, said before the sentence was passed that any confessions had been made under duress.

“The accusations are based on statements made by my son and Dmitry, which were given under physical and moral pressure in the preliminary investigation,” she said in a statement. “My son denied these statements in court. No other evidence of guilt was offered. While they try to persuade the people that my son and his friend should be shot, the real criminals are going free.”

Human rights groups claim around 400 people have been executed in Belarus since the 1991 Soviet collapse.

“The death penalty is irrevocable and we oppose its use in all cases. President Lukashenko should immediately declare a moratorium on the death penalty and join the growing ranks of countries that have abandoned this barbaric punishment,” Dalhuisen said.

“The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. Belarus remains the only country in Europe and the former Soviet Union which still carries out executions.”

_____

www.charter97.org

SENTENCED TO DEATH (Video)
November 30, 2011

SENTENCED TO DEATH (Video)

The Supreme Court of Belarus has pronounced the verdict in the Minsk metro bombing case.

The court sentenced the two accused of a terrorist attack in the Minsk metro to capital punishment.

Judge Alyaksndr Fedartsou, who conducted the trial, said the court was becoming more and more convinced while examining the materials of the case that “Dzmitry Kanavalau (the perpetrator) and Uladzislau Kavalyou (the accomplice) are extremely dangerous for the society and deserve capital punishment”.

The Supreme Court of Belarus came to a conclusion that Dzmitry Kanavalau committed a terrorist attack in Minsk on April 11, 2010. Kavalyou is reported to have helped Kanavalau to carry an explosive device in a flat and helped Kanavalau with the bomb.

Kanavalau was found guilty of taking the bomb to the metro and exploding it. While reading out the court decision, the Judge Alyaksandr Fedartsou mentioned names of 15 people killed and 200 people injured by the blast.

Kanavalau was also found guilty of explosion on the Independence Day in July 2008. Kavalyou was found guilty of not informing about the crime.

Kanavalau was also found guilty of making blasts in Vitsebsk on 14 and 22 September 2005 under article “terrorism”.

The fact that Kanavalau did not mention TNT as a component of the explosive device “does not leave doubts it was he who made the explosives and proves his unwillingness to inform investigation about the sources he got explosives from.

The court dropped charges from Kavalyou with failure to inform about preparing a terrorist attack of September 14 2005 due to lack of evidence.

The court found Kanavalau guilty of making two explosions in common lobbies of block of flats in Vitsebsk, an explosion on the façade of the library, setting tripwires and blasts near Hryhsany station, arson of a car. The court declared him not guilty of an attempted arson of a newspaper stall in 2004 “due to absence of proof”. The court said it was not proven that Kanavalau had been making explosive devices in that period of time.

Kavalyou pleaded not guilty during the trial claiming his evidence during investigation had been given under pressure.

Kanavalau refused to answer questions in court, but pleaded guilty to blasts in July 2008 in Minsk and April 2011 in the Minsk metro, but pleaded not guilty to the counts of blasts in Vitsebsk in 2005.

Lawyers for the defence said the investigation did not have convincing proofs of the guilt of Kanavalau and Kavalyou.

Some people injured by the blast said during the trial they had doubts if guilt of the defendants was proven.

After the state prosecution demanded death penalty for the accused, Belarusian human rights activists raised their voices against death sentence.

“One cannot ignore the fact that, according to reports by lawyers for the defence, human rights activists, certain victims and ordinary citizens, the investigation into the Minsk metro explosion, as well as the entire trial of Dzmitry Kanavalau and Uladzislau Kavalyou, failed to be professional and convincing,” a joint statement of a number of human rights organizations says. “We believe that, provided that the investigation has established Dzmitry Kanavalau and Uladzislau Kavalyou’s direct involvement in the metro explosion, the lives of the persons possessing valuable information on the circumstances of the tragedy should be saved for the sake of public security. Dzmitry Kanavalau and Uladzislau Kavalyou’s lives should be saved because further data on the 11 April terrorist act may appear,” the statement reads.

The authors of the statement underline: “It is not the execution of the criminals that should be viewed as the crucial aftermath of the case, but the society’s confidence in the establishment of every motive, circumstance and persons involved.”

The decision of the Supreme Court on the case is final, without appeal. Under the law, a petition for mercy can be considered by the president of the country.

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