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Belarus: execution of prisoner confirmed

Europe’s last executioner kills 28-year-old without informing family first

The recent execution of a Belarusian man convicted of assault and murder does nothing to advance the cause of justice, Amnesty International said today, after it was confirmed that the country had carried out a secretive execution earlier this month.
The exact date of 28-year-old Andrei Burdyka’s execution is not known, but it is believed to have taken place between 14 and 19 July. Another man convicted over the same case was also believed to have been executed although this has not yet been confirmed.
Andrei Burdyka and one other man were sentenced to death by shooting on 14 May for crimes committed during an armed robbery on a flat in the city of Grodno in October 2009.  Both men were found guilty of premeditated murder, armed assault, arson, kidnapping of a minor, theft and robbery. Andrei Burdyka and the other man pleaded guilty to the charges.
On Monday, Andrei Burdyka's mother visited the prison where her son had been held. She was informed that he had been shot and was handed his clothing and glasses. Neither of the families was officially informed of the executions. The family of the other condemned man chose not to travel to Minsk to ask the prison authorities if he had been executed.
Amnesty International Belarus researcher Heather McGill said:
“While this man has committed terrible crimes, he should not have been executed.
“We sympathise with the families of those who lost their lives in the robbery in 2009, but the taking of further lives does not right this wrong. The taking of a life by the state is not an adequate answer to the problem of violent crime in society.
”In Belarus the use of the death penalty is compounded by a flawed criminal justice system that uses capital punishment in a manner that violates international laws and standards. There is credible evidence that torture and ill-treatment are used to extract ‘confessions’”.
Belarus is the last remaining country in Europe to carry out executions; it executed two prisoners in 2010. People on death row are told that they will be executed only moments before the sentence is carried out. They are shot in the back of the head; sometimes more than one bullet is needed.
The body is not handed over to the family, who are often informed only afterwards, and the place of burial is kept secret, causing further distress to relatives.

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