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Lukashenka denies clemency for Minsk subway bombers


Alyaksandr Lukashenka has denied a presidential pardon for Dzmitry Kanavalaw and Uladzislaw Kavalyow who were sentenced to death in the Minsk subway bombing case in November 2011, BelaPAN said.

The head of state has decided not to commute the death sentences for Messrs. Kanavalaw and Kavalyow because the acts of terrorism and other crimes perpetrated by them were exceptionally grave, resulting in multiple deaths and causing injuries to a large number of people, Belarusian Television reported in its news show "Panarama" on Wednesday night.

As a result of their trial held between September 15 and November 30, Messrs. Kanavalaw and Kavalyow, now both aged 26, were convicted of two 2005 bomb explosions in Vitsyebsk, a bomb attack during an open-air Independence Day concert in Minsk in July 2008 and a subway bombing that killed 15 people and injured more than 200 on April 11, 2011. The Supreme Court of Belarus found Mr. Kanavalaw guilty of committing the explosions and Mr. Kavalyow was found guilty of being accomplice to the crimes.

Mr. Kavalyow applied for a presidential pardon in early December, while Mr. Kanavalaw decided against doing so, according to authorities.

Mr. Kavalyow's mother has repeatedly appealed to Belarusian authorities not to execute her son and complained to the UN Human Rights Committee about the potential violation of his right to life. The Committee registered the woman's individual communication on December 15 and asked the Belarusian government to postpone the execution of Mr. Kavalyow until the complaint was considered.

The young man's mother and sister last met with him in the detention center of the Committee for State Security (KGB) on March 11.

As many as 400 people may have been executed in Belarus since 1991, according to Amnesty International.

Executions are carried out by a gunshot to the back of the head. Neither the condemned nor relatives are told of the scheduled date of the execution, and the relatives are not told where the body is buried.

Belarus is the only country in Europe and the post-Soviet region where the death sentence remains a sentencing option. The Belarusian authorities have preserved the death penalty for "premeditated, aggravated murder" and 12 other peacetime offenses.

The death penalty was abolished thrice in Belarus since 1912 but was always restored. More than 80 percent of those who took part in a 1996 national referendum reportedly voted against abolishing it. In 2006, the government enacted an amendment to the Criminal Code, which indicated the temporary nature of the use of the death penalty in Belarus.

The European Union and many international organizations have long called on Belarus to impose a moratorium on the death penalty.

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