Belarus Subway Bombers Sentenced To Death

Dec. 1, 2011

 A court in Belarus on Wednesday sentenced two men to death after finding them guilty of carrying out several terror strikes in the country, including a deadly bomb attack in April on an underground subway station in capital Minsk in which 15 people were killed and more than 200 others injured.

The Belorussian Supreme Court ordered the execution of Dmitry Konovalov and Vladislav Kovalyov by firing squad. When and where they will be executed remains secret and will be disclosed only after their bodies are buried.

While Konovalov is accused of masterminding and carrying out the Minsk subway bomb attack, Kovalyov is charged with acting as an accessory to terrorism. Earlier, investigators had concluded that the duo did not have any political motives and were instead driven by "hatred for humankind."

They were also accused of involvement in a 2008 Minsk bomb attack as well as a 2005 bombing in their home city of Vitebsk. Although no one was killed in the attacks, many people were injured.

The April 11 bomb explosion at the Oktyabrskaya metro station, near the presidential administration building in Minsk, occurred when passengers were stepping off a train that arrived during the evening rush hours.

Eleven people were killed instantly, while four succumbed to their injuries later. Investigators say the bomb was left under a platform bench and detonated using a remote control when the train arrived at the station with the intention of killing "as many people as possible."

CCTV footage of the incident showed a man who appeared to be one of the detained suspects placing the bomb under a bench at the station and feeling for something in his jacket just moments before the bomb exploded.

The attack had sent shock waves across Belarus. Unlike Russia, which has been plagued by Islamist insurgency in its northern Caucasus region, Belarus has had a rather peaceful existence since securing independence from the erstwhile Soviet Union.

Belorussian President Alexander Lukashenko had described the blast as an attack aimed at undermining the stability of the former Soviet Republic, and expressed doubts that the bombing might have been "a gift from abroad."

Lukashenko, dubbed by the United States as "Europe's last dictator," has ruled Belarus since 1994. The subway bombing came in the wake of a political unrest triggered by the disputed re-election of Lukashenko for a fourth time in the controversial December 19 elections.

Results of the elections had sparked off violent anti-government protests in Minsk, with thousands of people taking to the streets alleging electoral fraud. More than 600 protesters, including seven presidential candidates, were detained in a subsequent crackdown on Opposition activists.

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