Belarus: Amnesty appeal for man facing execution by Monday

As the England football team prepares to face Belarus in Wednesday’s World Cup Qualifier, Amnesty International has launched an urgent appeal for Vasily Yusepchuk, a man facing execution as soon as Monday in Belarus, the last country in Europe to retain the death penalty.

Vasily Yusepchuk may have an intellectual disability and his lawyer has stated that he is illiterate and unable to tell the months of the year apart. He has alleged that he was beaten while in pre-trial detention in January and in March. There is credible evidence that torture and ill-treatment are used to extract “confessions” in Belarus, where the cruelty of the death penalty is compounded by a flawed criminal justice system that administers capital punishment in a way that violates international law.

Condemned prisoners in Belarus are usually executed within minutes of being told that their appeal for clemency has been rejected. They are given no warning that they are about to be executed: the prisoner is taken first to one room and told that their appeal for clemency has been turned down and that the sentence will be carried out. They are then taken to a neighbouring room where they are forced to their knees and shot in the back of the head.

Amnesty has urged the President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenka to grant clemency to Vasily Yusepchuk, who was sentenced to death by Brest Regional Court on 29 June 2009 for the murder of six elderly Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights. On 2 October his appeal to the Supreme Court was turned down leaving him 10 days – until Monday - to apply to President Lukashenka for clemency. Only one request for clemency has been granted since President Lukashenka came to power in 1994.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“Belarus should join the rest of Europe and abandon the death penalty, a sentence that is a throwback to times of brutal punishment and miscarriages of justice that can never be reprieved.

“By granting clemency to Vasily Yusepchuk, President Lukashenka could declare a moratorium on the death penalty and make Europe a death penalty free zone.”

Amnesty’s appeal comes ahead of World Day against Death Penalty, when activists will call on the authorities of Belarus to abolish executions and make good on previous declarations that Belarus is ready to declare a moratorium on the death penalty.

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