31 May 2018 :
The Supreme Court upheld the death sentences earlier handed down to Aliaksandr Zhylnikau and Viachaslau Sukharko for the murder of three people. The judgment was pronounced after the court completed hearing Zhylnikau’s appeal, while Sukharko refused to challenge the verdict.
During the hearing, Aliaksandr Zhylnikau requested a new medical-forensic examination, which, in his opinion, could confirm his innocence to two counts of murder. However, the panel of judges saw no reason to meet the request.
The convict’s lawyers argued that their client was not involved in the commission of the crimes, but was aware of the fact and helped Sukharko “overcome their consequences.” His guilt was not established on the basis of proven facts, but merely on the basis of the judges’ assumptions, the defense said.
Liudmila Kozak, Zhylnikau’s defense lawyer, stressed that the investigation and the subsequent trials violated her client’s rights as enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: the right to life, the right not to be subjected to degrading treatment, the right to physical integrity, as well as the right to a fair trial. In her opinion, the retrial of the case by the Minsk City Court, in fact, duplicated the Supreme Court’s decision, which found the sentence of life imprisonment to be too mild for the convict. According to Kozak, the judges of the Minsk City Court actually sided with the prosecution.
Four men are currently held on death row awaiting execution: Viachaslau Sukharko, Aliaksandr Zhylnikau, as well as Siamion Berazhnoi and Ihar Hershankou, whose death sentences were confirmed by the Supreme Court in December 2017.