At least two death row inmates executed in quick succession

Syarhey Khmyalewski, a 32-year-old man who was found guilty of murdering three people, has reportedly been executed in Belarus.

The man’s relatives were informed about the execution on November 29.

Syarhey Khmyalewski

“Syarhey Khmyalewski has not written any letters to his relatives for more than a month,” said Andrey Paluda, a coordinator of a group called “Human Rights Defenders against the Death Penalty in Belarus”. “However, last week relatives brought some money to the detention center for him and it was accepted. They came to see him today and were told that the sentence had been carried out.”

Mr. Paluda pointed out that another death row inmate, Henadz Yakavitski, had not been sending letters to his relatives for a month too.

On February 15, 2016, Mr. Khmyalewski was sentenced to death after the Minsk Regional Court found him guilty of brutally murdering three residents of the village of Machulishchy just outside Minsk in November 2014.

The Supreme Court upheld the death sentence on May 6.

According to the prosecution, on November 1, 2014, Mr. Khmyalewski, who had completed a prison term about a year before, killed a 49-year-old neighbor and that man’s 48-year-old common-law wife while they were drinking together at the neighbor’s home in Machulishchy. He allegedly attacked the man and the woman with a knife after an argument broke out between them. The victims suffered multiple stab wounds in the face and neck and died on the spot.

The convict set the house on fire in an attempt to hide the crime. When he was leaving the scene, he came across a 57-year-old man and pushed him into a seven-foot deep concrete pit in order to do away with the witness. The man suffered severe injuries and died in the hospital a few weeks later.

Mr. Khmyalewski was initially sentenced to life imprisonment but the prosecution appealed the sentence as too lenient.

In August, Mr. Khmyalewski filed a complaint against the death sentence with the UN Human Rights Committee.

This is the third known execution in Belarus this year.

On November 28, it became known about the execution of Ivan Kulesh, a 29-year-old man who was found guilty of murdering three saleswomen.

In addition, Syarhey Ivanow, a 21-year-old man who brutally murdered a 19-year-old girl in August 2013, was executed in April.

More than 400 people have been sentenced to death and executed in Belarus since the country acquired independence in 1991. Alyaksandr Lukashenka is known to have pardoned only one death row inmate.