UK condemns execution of convicted Minsk subway bombers

People place candles and lay flowers Friday at a memorial for the victims of last year's subway bombing in Minsk.

Story highlights

  • The April 2011 bombing killed 15 and wounded more than 200
  • European officials say the men did not have a fair trial
  • The Belarus president refused to pardon the two men
  • The mother of one of the men confirmed he was shot to death
A senior British lawmaker on Sunday condemned the execution in Belarus of one of two men convicted of a fatal subway bombing last year.
Minister for Europe David Lidington said independent reports had raised "serious and credible concerns" over the standard of evidence and fairness of the trial that led to the conviction of the men, Dmitry Konovalov and Vladislav Kovalev.
"The UK opposes the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle and any miscarriage of justice leading to the death penalty is of course irreversible and irreparable," Lidington said, urging Belarus to halt all executions and work toward abolishing the death penalty.
The men were sentenced to death for the April 2011 bombing that killed 15 people and wounded more than 200 at a subway station in Minsk.
Kovalev's mother said Saturday her son had been executed by shooting, Russia's state-run RIA Novosti reported. She maintained her son's innocence.
The private Belarus newspaper Telegraf reported Saturday that the other man, Konovalov, had also been shot dead.
The European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton condemned the execution, saying Saturday the men, both citizens of Belarus, were not accorded due process.
Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland condemned Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's decision not to pardon the men.
"Belarus is the only country in Europe which still executes people," Jagland said. "With its disrespect of basic human rights and democratic standards, the government of Belarus is increasingly isolating its country and its people from the rest of the world."
The bomb had been hidden beneath a bench and was filled with shrapnel, nails, and small metal balls and had the estimated power equivalent of 5 kilograms of TNT, the Belarusian state news agency Belta reported last year.
In its ruling, the court described the two men as "explosive enthusiasts" and said they posed an "exceptional danger to society," according to RIA Novosti.