On 22 May, the Supreme Court of Belarus upheld the death sentences of young brothers Stanislau and Illia Kostseu, aged 19 and 21 respectively. They have appealed to President Lukashenka for clemency. The President has granted clemency only once since coming to power in 1994. If clemency is denied, Stanislau and Illia Kostseu will be executed imminently.
There is no doubt that the murder, for which they were convicted, is a serious crime. Both young men have expressed their deep regret and cooperated fully with the criminal investigation. Stanislau and Illia Kostseu are the youngest prisoners to be sentenced to death in Belarus in over ten years. Their execution would be a terrible stain on Belarus’ record.
The death penalty has been abolished in law or practice in every country in Europe and Central Asia, except Belarus, although there is a clear and welcome commitment from Belarus to join its neighbours and the global trend towards abolition.