Lawyers for two men accused of carrying out a bomb attack that claimed 15 lives in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, will address the court on Tuesday, a day after prosecutors demanded they face the firing squad.
Dmitry Konovalov and Vladislav Kovalyov have been charged with detonating an explosive device at a metro station on April 11. The blast also injured over 200 people. One of the suspects has pleaded guilty, citing pressure. Witnesses in the case said the charges are unsubstantiated.
“The prosecution suggests that they are highly dangerous for society and the country as a whole,” Prosecutor Alexei Stuk said, according to the Belarusian news agency Belta. Prosecutors said earlier the suspects had been guided by a hatred for mankind.
"I am asking for capital punishment," he said. The court is expected to give a verdict in the next few days.
Kovalyov’s mother, Lyubov, said on Monday that the case was fabricated to cover up the real culprits and referred to inconsistencies in the investigation.
“I am sure that my son is innocent,” she said, with tears in her eyes, and added that the court was biased against the suspects.
A woman injured in the metro blasts, Lyudmila Zhechko, said “other people stand behind” the terrorist attacks.
“I don’t believe it that two uneducated woodworker-mechanics could have masterminded such a thing,” she said.
Prosecutors have also linked the two men to other bomb attacks, including one on Independence Day in 2008 and blasts in the town of Vitebsk in 2005.
Belarus remains the only European country that allows death penalty. Last year, two people were sentenced to capital punishment and executed.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Helsinki Commission will hold a hearing on the human rights situation in Belarus.