Brothers sentenced to death for brutally murdering former teacher

By MIrror | Sunday, Jan 12th 2020 at 11:17
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Two brothers have been sentenced to death after they were found guilty of brutally murdering their former teacher.

Stanislaw Kostsew, 19, and his brother Illya, 21, face being blindfolded and made to kneel before being shot in the back of the head by a state executioner in Belarus - the last country in Europe where execution is permitted.

The pair’s final hope of staying alive is to plead for clemency from strongman president Alexander Lukashenko - but he has already publicly branded them “scum”.

They were found guilty of stabbing teacher Natalya Kostritsa around 100 times before setting her house on fire.

Unusually, Lukashenko - who has dismissed international human rights criticism over the use of the death penalty - had revealed details of the case even before the guilty verdict.

The teacher was targeted after she called for social services to remove two children from the care of the boys' sister. 

The Belarus ruler said in December: “Two scum - there's no other name for them since they have been previously convicted of assault - killed their teacher.

“For what? For protecting two of their sister's children?

He said: “They stabbed and cut her all through the night.

“They were killing her all night long.

“She begged, and in the end, they finished her off by dawn despite her pleas.”

The pair were exacting revenge for the teacher demanding that social services removed the children from the care of their sister - who Lukashenko branded an “asocial element”.

He knew about the case because he had been briefed by the chairman of the supreme court, he revealed.

Lukashenko has told how each time he signs a death warrant - and he has sent around 250 to their death since 1994, sparing only one - he feels bad.

“You feel catastrophic,” he admitted.

“You feel fear.

“And you are deeply disturbed because you realise that a person will be killed on your signature.”

But, he claimed, life in prison “is a much worse ordeal because such people are caged like animals”.

The brothers were caught when the teacher’s stolen computer was found in their house.

They confessed stabbing her to death and throwing the knife into the local Sozh River.

In court, the pair pleaded for mercy, claiming they were drunk.

“I don’t know what went wrong,” said Illya.

“Maybe vodka acted like that. I still can’t explain why I killed her.”

Stanislaw - who said he was an accomplice - pleaded in court: ‘Give us a chance.”

But the victim’s mother Vera Gordievitch objected, demanding: “Who will return my daughter?”

A court cage video showed Illya saying they repented.

Asked what message he had for the bereaved he said: "We regret for their loss.

“We understand exactly how painful its for them.

“We realise everything clearly.

“But what has been done cannot be changed.”

Death row inmates' families are not informed about executions, nor granted a last visit.

The bodies of those executed are not handed to their families and burial sites are not disclosed.

Three executions were carried out in 2019.

The method is similar to that used under Stalin in the USSR.

More than 400 men have been executed in Belarus since the country became independent with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Luksashenko has been in power since 1994.

The EU and various international organisations have urged Belarus to stop using the death penalty.

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