Appeal to save Stanislav e Il’ya Kostsev, two brothers aged 19 and 21

Sentenced to death: Stanislaw e Ilya Kostsew
Execution date: Date not communicated
Place of execution: Belarus

We learn from an article published in the BBC News by Tatsiana Melnichuk and Tatsiana Yanutsevich that two young men have been sentenced to death in Belarus.  The date of their execution is unknown; any day now, it’s possible they will be executed.

Hanna, their oldest sister, has given her testimony. Five months ago, the two brothers were sentenced to death. Hanna hug her younger siblings through the bars in that courtroom, and promised she would do everything possible to save their lives. We believe it’s our duty to support her and ask the President of Belarus for clemency towards these two young guys .

It’s a story of poverty that goes back 19 years, when the father of these kids died. Stanislav, the youngest was then five months old. Il’ya was already two years old., Natalja, their mother, worked as a milkmaid on a collective farm to feed her family. Subsequently she got a job in a transport company, where her shifts sometimes ran late into the night. Stanislav, Il’ya and their older brother were often left in the care of Hanna, the oldest child of the family.
Natalja held out for 13 years. Indeed, when Stanislav and Il’ya were 14 and 16 they were taken away from her and placed in a state-run children’s home. Natalja had to pay the bill, from then on each month a third of her meagre salary has been taken by the state. She is still indebted to the State and she will continue to pay for the next eight years.  Since their children were arrested in 2019, Natalja’s olnly contact with them has been by letter. The prison was too far and she was unable to travel because of her work shifts and her debts.
It was soon after Stanislav’s 18th birthday when the two young boys finally came back home, the family rejoiced at being reunited. But it didn’t last long! The two brothers had problems with a neighbour who had complained to social services about Hanna’s children, Natalja’s grandchildren. She had suggested that they too be taken into care. Stanislav and Il’ya stabbed her to death then set the house on fire, and were quickly arrested.
The two brothers have begged the victim’s relatives to forgive them and then asked to talk to a priest. They are held separately because they are forbidden to meet or even write to each other.
It was only after the verdict that Hanna learned that other countries in Europe, including neighbouring Russia and Ukraine, no longer execute to death since 1996 and do not have death penalty. It was a bitter discovery but this has given her hope the sentence to be commuted to life in prison.
Belarus is in the only European country where the death penalty still exists. Stanislav’s and Il’ya’s family  will never find out when they were shot, or where they were buried. The death penalty is denying the right to repent
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