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Belarus executes alleged subway bomber

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One of two men who allegedly carried out a subway bombing attack in Belarus that killed 15 people and wounded hundreds more has been executed, his mother has said.

Lubov Kovaleva said she had received official notification about the execution of her son, Vladislav Kovalev.

Kovalev and Dmitry Konovalov, both 26 years old, were convicted in November of planting a bomb at the busiest subway station in Belarus' capital, Minsk, last April. Investigators said the men were driven by "hatred for humankind", not political or religious motives.

The Supreme Court found that Konovalov made the bomb and stayed with Kovalev in his Minsk apartment just before the blast. Investigators said Kovalev was aware of the blast plans.

But Kovalev pleaded not guilty and said he did not participate in the bombing. The men's defense attorneys said the evidence presented in court was trivial and inconclusive.

'Grandiose provocation'

Critics of the ex-Soviet nation's authoritarian government suggested it may have staged the blast to divert attention from the worst economic crisis in its post-Soviet history.

President Alexander Lukashenko denied the speculation and denied the men clemency last week.

"I am sure my son was innocent,'' Kovalev's mother told The Associated Press, saying she believes the execution was rushed "to hide all the details of his case".

Capital sentences are usually carried out in Belarus a year or two after the conviction, and the hasty execution added to the controversy about the bombing, a Belarusian political analyst said.

"The version that the whole thing is a grandiose provocation by security services remains very popular,'' Minsk-based analyst Viktor Demidov told the Gazeta.ru online daily newspaper.

Executions in Belarus are carried out with a bullet to the back of the head. The time and place is a state secret, and relatives of those executed are never told where the bodies are buried.

Belarus is Europe's only country that still puts people to death, and rights activists claim around 400 people have been executed since the 1991 Soviet collapse.


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