Black realtors case: One more executed in Belarus

Ihar Hershankou, who was sentenced to capital punishment by Mahiliou Regional Court in July, 2017, was put to death, human rights centre Viasna reports.

Today his mother has received a document confirming that the sentence was executed, but it gives no further details.

It is noteworthy that the Supreme Court of Belarus suspended the sentence at the request of the UN Human Rights Committee in June, 2018. There has been no information about revoking the suspension.

On November 27, human rights activists reported the execution of his partner in crime Syamyon Berazhnoy.

Ihar Hershankou, Barys Kalesnikau, Syamyon Berazhnoy and his wife Tatsyana were involved in the so-called black realtors case in Mahiliou. They were accused of committing murder and preparing to commit murder, kidnapping and preparing for an abduction, as well as fraud, robbery, extortion, theft or destruction of documents. Tatsyana Hershankova was additionally accused of drug or psychotropic substance trafficking. The court found that the criminal group as a whole earned more than 2 billion of non-denominated rubles on housing fraud.

As a result, the court sentenced Ihar Hershankou and Syamyon Berazhnoy to capital punishment. Tatsyana Hershankova received 24 years in prison with confiscation of property, and Barys Kalesnikau — 22 years and 1 month in a penal colony.

Belarus remains the only country in Europe that still applies capital punishment. The West has repeatedly called on the Belarusian authorities to join a global moratorium as a first step towards the abolition of death penalty.

The exact number of executions in Belarus is unknown, but local human rights defenders and journalists have worked tirelessly to uncover some information about death sentences and executions. According to the Ministry of Justice of Belarus, 245 people were sentenced to death from 1994 to 2014. Human rights NGOs believe that around 400 people have been executed since the country gained its independence in 1991; president Alyaksandr Lukashenka granted a pardon to only one convict.