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Belarus Hands Down First Death Sentence This Year

Belarus Hands Down First Death Sentence This Year
VIKTAR SKRUNDZIK

Previously, the Supreme Court overturned the sentence, and sent the case for reconsideration.

At a court hearing held today, on January 15, in the city of Slutsk, the Minsk Regional Court handed down a verdict to three defendants in the trial on charges of killing two elderly persons and attempting to murder an 85-year-old woman in January 2019, reports the Viasna HRC website.

Earlier, the Supreme Court overturned the verdict and sent the case for retrial. In the practice of passing death sentences in Belarus, it is a rare occurrence when the Supreme Court board overturns an earlier sentence, and returns the case for a new trial.

Today, on January 15, the Minsk Regional Court again delivered a verdict, which is no different from the previous one. Local resident Viktar Skrundzik was sentenced to death, his accomplice Vital Matsezh was punished with 22 years in a reinforced security colony, Valiantsin Bushnin got 18 years in a reinforced security colony. The men committed the crime in order to get money for a drink.

Murders near Slutsk

A series of murders near Slutsk took place back in 2019. On January 14, 79-year-old Mikhail Shuhaley was killed in the village of Sukhouchytsy. The charges were brought against 29-year-old Viktar Skrundzik (previously convicted twice) and 33-year-old Valiantsin Bushnin (previously convicted six times). According to the investigation, the elderly man was first strangled with a lace from sports pants, and then the criminals set a fire in his house. As the examination showed, during the arson, the man was still alive, that is, he was burned alive. The attackers took 50 rubles from the victim's house to buy alcohol.

A week later, on January 21, there was an attack on 94-year-old Uladzimir Harkavy, he lived in the village of Ulyanauka. The man was strangled with a wire, a belt, and was also burned alive. The attackers took 280 rubles and several bottles of alcohol from his house. The charges were brought against Viktar Skrundzik and 25-year-old Vital Matsezh (previously not convicted).

Ten days later, on January 31, 85-year-old Safiya Matsele was attacked in the village of Sukhouchytsy. Viktar Skrundzik, who was found guilty of attempted murder, beat the woman, threatened to kill her and extorted money for a drink. The pensioner managed to escape.

In March 2020, the court sentenced one of the defendants to death penalty, the rest - long terms of imprisonment: 18 and 22 years. On June 30 last year, the Supreme Court considered the appeal, overturned the verdict and sent the case back for retrial.