Belarus expands death penalty to military and civil servants convicted of treason

Belarus expanded the death penalty to all military and public administration staff convicted of treason against the State. Belarus is the only country in Europe still applying capital punishment.

Alexander Lukashenko
Alexander Lukashenko | © Press Service of the President of the Republic of Belarus

The president of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, on March 9, amended the law on Criminal Liability, according to the president’s press office.

The law expands criminal liability for high treason committed by an official onto all the individuals that do government jobs, according to the State news agency Belta. Moreover, it introduces the death penalty for military and civil servants if they are found guilty of treason against the State of Belarus.

Belarus is the only country in Europe that didn’t abolish the death penalty, which could until now only be applied to cases of murder or terrorism.

Mr. Lukashenko also increased the financial penalty for a number of crimes to “ensure unconditional compensation for the harm caused by such acts, and depriving the perpetrators of the means to continue their criminal activities.” It also increases the period of detention for suspects of treason, conspiracy or espionage.

According to the German news agency DPA, observers analyzed that Mr. Lukashenko, often considered the last dictator of Europe and a close ally to Russian President Vladimir Putin, toughened legislation for actions deemed extremist or hostile to the State to ensure loyalty to his regime from public employees and military personnel.

Earlier this week, a Belarus court condemned in absentia Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the main opposition leader exiled in Lithuania, to fifteen years of prison for crimes including conspiracy to seize state power as well as creating and leading an extremist group. Another exiled opposition leader, Pavel P. Latushko, was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Reacting to the Court decision on Twitter, Ms. Tsikhanouskaya wanted instead to “think about thousands of innocents, detained and sentenced to real prison terms.”

Last Friday, Belarus sentenced Ales Bialiatski, 60, and human rights activist awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October, to 10 years in prison.

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