The two men who allegedly bombed a Minsk metro station in April went on trial on Thursday. Standing in cages behind their lawyers, Dmitry Konovalov and Vladislav Kovalyov, heard the opening remarks from Supreme Court Deputy Chairman Alexander Fedortsov.
Konovalov, considered the mastermind of the bombing that killed 15 people, has been charged with terrorism, while Kovalyov has been charged as an accessory to terrorism. Belarus is the only European country that actively employs the death penalty, and if convicted both men could be killed by firing squad.
The last execution held in the country was in March 2010, when two convicted murderers were executed by shooting, according to an Amnesty International report.
The bombing in April was the deadliest attack on Belarus since the country's founding after the collapse of the Soviet Union. A bomb was detonated as a train pulled into the Kastrychnitskaya train station at rush hour, killing 15 and injuring 200. Konovalov and Kovalyov are also thought to be behind at least two other bombings, one on Belarus' Independence Day in 2008 and other in Vitebsk in 2005.
About 100 of those wounded in the metro bombing attended the first day of the trial at Minsk's House of Justice.
In America, the victims of terrorist attacks are paid $250,000, but I was only paid 3.5 million (Belarussian rubles). That is $1,000. You can't buy health with that, twenty year old victim Alexander Alexandriya told Agence France Presse.
I did not have any tears from the horror. My tears came when I realised how many people had suffered, and I felt sorrow for those who died... But we need to live, his mother, Tatyana Alexandriya, told the wire service.
Authorities have not given a motive for the attack, but some officials in Belarus think that it is part of a nationalist movement, according to AFP.