Belarus′ Lukashenko rejects death penalty mercy plea | News | DW | 15.03.2012
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Belarus' Lukashenko rejects death penalty mercy plea

Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko has apparently rejected a mercy plea from one of two men sentenced to death over a bomb attack that killed 15 people in a Minsk metro station almost a year ago.

The president rejected the clemency plea "due to the gravity of the crime and the high risk to society," Belarus media reported on Thursday.

Vladislav Kovalyov and Dmitri Konovalov were convicted and sentenced to death in November. Experts were critical of the trial, which they said had not established beyond doubt that the men carried out the attack on a central Minsk metro station April 11, 2011.

In addition to the 15 people killed in the bombing, hundreds were injured.

With rejection of the plea for clemency, all legal means of preventing the executions have been exhausted, and they can take place at any time. Prisoners sentenced to death in the former Soviet republic are shot in the back of the head. Belarus officials notify relatives of executions only after the fact.

Belarus is the only country in Europe that still executes convicts.

ncy/pfd (dpa, KNA, AFP, dapd)