Belarus threatens to execute activists for anti-war train sabotage

Three Belarusian activists may be executed after being accused of carrying out railway sabotage in Belarus to hinder the movement of Russian troops in the early stages of their invasion of Ukraine, Belarusian investigators said on Wednesday.

The men were charged with terrorism after being arrested on March 1 for setting fire to control cabinets on the railway network at night, the Belarusian Commission of Inquiry said.

“The men could face a maximum sentence equivalent to the death penalty,” it said in a statement on its website announcing the completion of its investigation.

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Ex-Soviet Belarus carries out executions with a single shot to the back of the head. Relatives will not be informed once the sentence has been carried out and the body has not been returned.

Moscow used Belarus, a close ally of the Kremlin, as a base for its attack on Kiev. Minsk denies involvement in the conflict, but acknowledges that its territory has been used.

According to estimates by the Belarusian authorities and the opposition, dozens of acts of sabotage were carried out on the railway system from February to April to delay the deployment of Russian troops and hardware in the war in Ukraine.

The impact of the sabotage on Russian troop movements was unclear.

The men received instructions from a Belarusian opposition group that authorities in Minsk have labeled as extremist, the researchers said.

The investigation has been handed over to the prosecution and will then be sent to court for trial, the commission said. It was not clear when that would be.

Last month, Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko signed his approval of a move to expand the use of the death penalty in Belarus to also punish attempted terrorism.

Belarus already had the death penalty for acts of terrorism causing loss of life, for brutal murders and multiple murders.

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