Mall attacker sentenced to 15 years in prison

A young man who attacked people with a chainsaw and an axe at a shopping mall in Minsk last October was sentenced on Friday to 15 years in a minimum-security correctional institution, the maximum possible penalty in the case.

Uladzislaw Kazakevich, now 18, was found guilty of brutal murder, attempted murder, preparations for multiple homicide, and malicious hooliganism.

The teenager killed a woman and injured two more women before the eyes of terrified shoppers before being overwhelmed by the mall’s workers and visitors.

Speaking in a packed courtroom, the public prosecutor said that Mr. Kazakevich had been preparing to commit a mass murder.

According to the prosecutor, he initially planned a massacre at International Institute of Labor and Social Relations, where he was a first-year student at that time. On October 7, the man came to the school, planning to bring a chainsaw into an auditorium with 178 students inside and even starting the tool inside the institute’s bathroom. However, as Mr. Kazakevich was making his way out of the bathroom he accidentally activated the chainsaw’s chain brake, failed to restart the tool and was forced to abandon his plan.

Mr. Kazakevich, then 17, entered the Novaya Yewropa (New Europe) shopping mall on Surhanava Street in central Minsk at 5:27 p.m. on October 8. He had the chainsaw and an axe hidden in an electric guitar bag. He started the gas-powered saw and attacked a salesperson who had left her workplace to buy something at another store at the mall. He hit her on the back several times with the saw. The saw cut out and, after the woman fell, he hit her three times with the axe.

According to police, the 43-year-old woman received "injuries incompatible with life" and died on the spot.

People started to run away in panic. The attacker entered a pizza place and hit a 46-year-old woman visitor twice on the chest and shoulder.

Witnesses said that the young man, who was wearing a bright orange vest, a helmet, chainsaw protective glasses and ear guards, acted in a calm and cold-blooded manner.

A psychiatric examination found that Mr. Kazakevich was not psychotic at the time of the attack and was fit to stand trial.

In 2014, the young man made two suicide attempts. He was subsequently diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder and started to undergo treatment at a psychiatric hospital near Minsk. He stopped the treatment at the beginning of 2016.

As Judge Pavel Arlow was reading out the sentence, Mr. Kazakevich was absolutely calm.

Apart from the prison term, Mr. Kazakevich was also ordered to pay more than 220,000 rubels (about $116,000) to his victims and their relatives.

The young man earlier said that the victims and their relatives were demanding too much money, and that he only agreed to cover the funeral expenses.

He also said that he had intended to carry out a terrorist act and kill people “for fun.”

“I regret that I didn’t do some of the things that I wanted to do,” Mr. Kazakevich said in his final statement. “I’ll return to complete what I started.”

According to the man, he wanted to be killed during the arrest at the shopping mall because he did not want to “rot” in the prison.