EUROPE

Belarus executes convicted murderer: rights group

April 18, 2014
Belarus has executed a man convicted of a gruesome double murder, a rights group said Friday, the latest case of capital punishment in the ex-Soviet country.
Pavel Selyun had been found guilty of murdering his wife and her lover in August 2012 after he found out they were having an affair.
He had decapitated the man and stuffed his body down a rubbish chute, but took his head with him as he fled town and still had it when he was arrested on a train.
Last year a court sentenced Selyun, 23, to death, a punishment that is usually carried out in secret by shooting in the back of the head.
The execution, the first of 2014, was apparently carried out in recent days, although Selyun’s lawyer and family found out only on Friday.
“Today the mother of Pavel Selyun found out from the lawyer that the punishment had been carried out,” rights group Viasna said in a statement. “The lawyer went to meet the defendant but was told by prison officials that Selyun ‘had left in accordance with the sentence’.”
“In other words, that means he was executed,” it said.
Belarus is the only country in Europe to administer the death penalty.
Last September the Supreme Court confirmed the sentence in Selyun’s case, however the defence filed a complaint over the decision and was awaiting a response when the execution took place.
Source: Global Post

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Norway: Mass killer Anders Breivik threatens hunger strike for better video games, end of “torture”

Norwegian mass killer Anders Breivik has threatened to start a hunger strike over his living conditions in jail, it has emerged.

Breivik, who killed 77 people in 2011, compared prison to “torture” and bemoaned, among other things, the lack of an up-to-date video games console in his cell.

His comments were made in a four-page hand-written letter to penitentiary officials, which contains a dozen requests, including making his jail time compliant with European regulations. They also tackle issues of fundamental rights, such as a daily walk and communication.

Breivik requests the Playstation 2 he has access to is replaced by a more recent Playstation 3. “Other inmates have access to video games for adults while I can only play the less interesting children video games. One example is ‘Rayman Revolution,’ a game designed for 3-year-olds,” the 35-year-old wrote.

Breivik, in solitary confinement since 2011 for security reasons, claims he has behaved “in an exemplary fashion” and deserves an improved “activities offer” compared to other inmates.

Breivik also requests the doubling of his weekly allowance of 300 Norwegian crowns (36 euros), to help pay for postage stamps. All the mail he sends and receives is thoroughly searched and filtered by prison staff, which, he laments, slows his exchanges considerably.

He also requests the end to the “almost” daily body searches, access to a PC rather than “worthless typewriter, technology that dates back to 1873,” and more contact with the outside world.

Through hell

“You have put me through hell (…) and I won’t be able to survive it much longer. You are killing me,” Breivik writes to the prison authorities, brandishing the threat of a hunger strike.

“If I die, all the far right radicals and extremists in the European world will know exactly which individuals tortured me to death (…)This could have consequences for some individuals on the short term but also when Norway will have a new fascist regime in 13 to 40 years,” warns the killer, who considers himself a “political prisoner.”

In his letter, Breivik writes that a hunger strike seems like “one of the few and rare alternatives.”

“The hunger strike will not stop until [Norwegian Justice Minister Anders] Anundsen and [Norwegian Penitentiary affairs director] Marianne Vollan stop treating me worse than an animal,” he adds, before saying he will “soon” announce the beginning of his hunger strike.

In previous letters, Breivik, claiming he was a “human rights activist,” had already complained about his living conditions and had attacked the media for not publicising his “torment.” In January 2013, his lawyers announced Breivik had filed a complaint for “aggravated torture”.

On July 22, 2011, Breivik first killed eight people with a bomb near the government headquarters in Oslo, then killed a further 69, mostly teenagers, after opening fire on a Young Labour activists meeting on the island of Utøya.

(Source: euronews)

Nazi war crimes suspect Csatary dies

A 99 year old Nazi war crimes suspect, Hungarian Laszlo Csatary, has died while awaiting trial, his lawyer said.

Csatary died in a Hungarian hospital after suffering from a number of medical problems, Gabor Horvath said.

He at one time topped the list of most wanted Nazi war crimes suspects and is alleged to have assisted in the murder of 15,700 Jews during World War II.

He faced charges relating to his wartime activities in both Hungary and in Slovakia.

Horvath said his client died on Saturday morning. “He had been treated for medical issues for some time but contracted pneumonia, from which he died.”

Csatary had denied the allegations against him, saying he was merely an intermediary between Hungarian and German officials and was not involved in war crimes.

In 1944 he was the Royal Hungarian Police commander in the city of Kassa in Hungary (now Košice in Slovakia). In charge of a Jewish ghetto, he helped organize the deportation of approximately 15,700 Jews to Auschwitz. He is also accused of having inhumanely exercised his authority in a forced labour camp.

Csatary also brutalized the inhabitants of the city. He was convicted in absentia for war crimes in Czechoslovakia in 1948 and sentenced to death. He fled to Canada in 1949 claiming to be a Yugoslav national and settled in Montreal where he became an art dealer. He became a citizen in 1955.

In 1997, his Canadian citizenship was revoked by the federal Cabinet for lying on his citizenship application. He fled the country two months later.

In 2012, Csatary was located in Budapest, Hungary, based on a tip received by the Simon Wiesenthal Center in September 2011. His address was exposed by reporters from The Sun in July 2012.

He was reportedly taken into custody on 18 July 2012 by the Hungarian authorities for questioning.

On 30 July 2012, Slovak Justice Minister Tomáš Borec told reporters in Bratislava that Slovakia wanted Csatary to be tried in that country.

A file that the Simon Wiesenthal Center had prepared on Csatary implicated him in the deportation of 300 people from Kassa in 1941. In August 2012 the Budapest Prosecutor’s Office dropped these charges, saying Csatary was not in Kassa at the time and lacked the rank to organize the transports. In January 2013 it was reported that Slovak police had found a witness to corroborate other charges relating to deportations of 15,700 Jews from Kassa from May 1944.

On 28 March 2013, the Slovak County Court in Košice has changed the 1948 verdict in Csatary’s case.

The verdict was changed from death penalty to the life sentence according to the newspapers.

The reason for that was to make the verdict executable. According to the press the Prosecutor’s office spokesman said “now the Court has the task to deliver the verdict to the convict”.

On 18 June 2013, prosecutors in Hungary indicted Csatary with war crimes, saying he had abused Jews and helped to deport Jews to Auschwitz in World War II. A spokesperson for the Budapest Chief Prosecutor’s Office said, “He is charged with the unlawful execution and torture of people, (thus) committing war crimes partly as a perpetrator, partly as an accomplice.”

The Budapest higher court suspended his case on 8 July 2013, however, because “Csatary had already been sentenced for the crimes included in the proceedings, in former Czechoslovakia in 1948”. The court added it needed to be established whether the 1948 ruling, a death sentence changed to life imprisonment later, could be valid in Hungary and under what circumstances could Csatary serve the sentence. (Euronews, August 12, 2013)

UN rights office criticises Vietnam over death penalty

GENEVA (AFP) – The United Nation’s human rights office on Friday voiced concern over Vietnam resuming executions after a two-year hiatus in the use of capital punishment, warning that dozens more were poised to die.

“We are dismayed by the resumption of the death penalty by Vietnam,” the office’s spokesman Cecile Pouilly told reporters.

Vietnam executed its first prisoner – a 27-year-old murderer – by lethal injection on Tuesday, its state media said.

The communist country had put capital punishment on ice almost two years ago due to problems procuring the chemicals for lethal injections. (Agence France-Presse)

MAN SENTENCED TO DEATH IN BELARUS

A  23 year-old man has been sentenced to death in Western Belarus on 12 June for a double murder.

Pavel Selyun was sentenced to death by the Hrodna Regional Court on 12 June for the murder of his wife and her lover in August 2012. His lawyer has appealed the sentence to the Supreme Court.

He is currently being detained in Investigation Isolation Prison (SIZO) No. 1 in Hrodna. His mother, Tamara Selyun, who lives over 300 km away from Hrodna, has not received any letters from
him since the sentence was pronounced on 12 June, and she is concerned that he may commit suicide.
She told Amnesty International: “My son is worthy of making a contribution to his country and shouldn’t be sitting where he is sitting now”.

Belarus is the last country in Europe which still carries out executions: in 2012 it executed three men. Three death sentences have been pronounced so far in 2013: Rygor Yuzepchuk was sentenced on 24 April, and Alyaksandr Harynou was sentenced on 14 June.

On 21 June, at a round table on religion and the death penalty organized by the Council of Europe, the Head of the Orthodox Church in Belarus, Metropolitan Filaret spoke out against the death
penalty: “We, Christians, cannot legitimize capital punishment since this is the sin of murder …
We, sinful people, are not to grant life to a person, neither we should decide about a person’s existence.”

Please write immediately in Belarusian, Russian, English or your own language:
-Urging President Lukashenka to commute immediately the death sentence of Pavel Selyun;
-Urging him to commute immediately all the death sentences in Belarus;
-Calling on him to establish an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 08 AUGUST 2013 TO:

President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka
ul. Karla Marxa 38
220016 Minsk
Belarus
Fax: 011 375 17 226 0610
011 375 17 222 3872
Email: contact@president.gov.by

And copies to:
Chair of the Supreme Court of Belarus
Valentin Sukalo
Lenina 28
220030 Minsk
Belarus
Fax: 011 375 17 3271225
Email: scjustrb@pmrb.gov.by
Salutation: Dear President Lukashenka

Ambassador Oleg Kravchenko
Embassy of the Republic of Belarus
1619 New Hampshire Ave NW
Washington DC 20009
Tel: 1 202 986 1604
Fax: 1 202 986 1805
Email: usa@mfa.gov.by -OR- politics@belarusembassy.org
Please check with the Urgent Action Network office if sending appeals after the above date.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
In Belarus, death sentences are often imposed after unfair trials which include forced confessions; they are implemented in strict secrecy and without giving adequate notice to the inmates
themselves, their families or legal representatives. The authorities refuse to return the bodies of those executed to their relatives or even tell them where they are buried; and executions are
carried out despite requests from the UN Human Rights Committee to the government not to carry out the executions. The Human Rights Committee and others have found that the application of the death penalty in Belarus violates the human rights of those convicted and their families.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception. It violates the right to life, as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

Name: Pavel Selyun (m)
Issues: Death penalty
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Turkey: Death Penalty Politics

November 16, 2012 http://www.eurasianet.org

Under the guidance of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turkey completely abolished the death penalty in 2004, one of several reforms enacted with an eye towards meeting the criteria required for joining the European Union. So what to make of the suggestions made recently by the AKP’s leader, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, that Turkey should consider reintroducing capital punishment?

First, the background. Erdogan got the debate going earlier this month when he told an annual gathering of AKP members that, in response to recent upsurge in attacks against Turkish forces by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), public opinion now supports reintroducing the death penalty. Soon after, Erdogan told a crowd in Ankara, “In the face of deaths, murders, if necessary the death penalty should be brought back to the table (for discussion).” While Turkey’s Minister of Justice has said that there are no plans to bring the death penalty back, the fact that Erdogan — Turkey’s most powerful politician — has brought up the issue, was enough to raise concern among many Turks and some European politicians.

While Erdogan may only be bluffing as a way of looking tough in the face of mounting violence on the Kurdish front, what lies beneath his death penalty talk is worrying. For one, Erdogan’s remarks show that Turkey EU-inspired reform drive is not only fatigued but also in danger of backsliding. Granted, Ankara has few reasons to believe that a membership in the EU is in the cards right now, but AKP leaders have always promised that they would pursue a reform-minded agenda even without a push from Brussels. Erdogan’s talk of bringing back the death penalty raises the question of what other unsavory policies may be brought back to life as the conflict with the Kurds heats up.

The death penalty debate also confirms Erdogan’s move towards the nationalist right as he positions himself for the 2014 presidential elections. Erdogan’s wish to become Turkey’s next president is well known, but it appears that he has decided that talking tough at a time when there is increasing anger among Turks — most of whom are center-right on the political spectrum — about the growing number of PKK attacks is the best way for him to win the presidential election.

Finally, the Prime Minister’s suggestion that capital punishment be reintroduced is another indication that we can expect more trouble, rather than reconciliation, on the Kurdish front. Although some analysts have suggested that Erdogan’s tough talk is being done in order for him to appear strong in the eyes of Turkey’s nationalists, which would give the PM some room to negotiate with the PKK, it appears that his death penalty remarks have only worked to reinforce a sense among Kurds that Ankara is backsliding on the Kurdish issue. In an interviewwith the Bianet website, Necdet Ipekyuz, a Kurdish civil society leader in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir, offers his view on how the renewed death penalty debate is being viewed by Kurds:

The debate is a source of anxiety for Kurds. It almost turns into a blackmail. If we want peace, we shouldn’t even debate on death penalty.

Most Kurds feel like they might the next person on the row. There shouldn’t be any more executions in this country. We suffered long enough, lost even our prime ministers. When we look back, no one seems to approve these executions now.

PM Erdogan’s speeches are highly influential. This influence isn’t always positive. Politicians should follow common sense.