Bialiatski’s verdict left unchanged

Verdict for Beliatski remains unchanged: four and a half years strict regime detention and confiscation of his properties for human rights activities, reports the website supporting Bialiatski.

The Minsk city court dismissed Bialiatski’s cassation appeal and left the verdict of the Pershamaiski district court unchanged. The decision was announced by the judge Vladimir Stepurko on January 24th.

The court granted two requests made by the lawyer Dmitry Layeusky – to attach the bills of the payment and copies of the documents on Bialiatski’s property.

Four requests were dismissed:

  • to bring Bialiatski in the court

  • to ask organisations that cooperated with Bialiatski to give reasons for transferring money and explain if Bialiatski had agreed to undertake certain activities with this money

  • to postpone the considering the cassation appeal until the documents of money transfer on Bialiatski’s accounts are provided

  • to change the preventive measure – detention.

As a result, the court left the decision unchanged.

The court did not take into account that on January 18, human right activist’s wife Natalia Pinchuk transferred 757,526,717 Belarusian rubles ($90,000) to the account of the justice department of the Minsk city executive committee.

The court did not pay attention to the expert’s decision by the Belarusian Helsinki Committee sent to the Minsk city court before the trial. The Committee found the verdict to the human rights activist illegal.

The defense will appeal against the verdict “exclusively in order to have a possibility and prospect of an international legal reaction, without continuing to seek the truth through a ritual that for some unknown reasons is called court in Belarus.” said Vladimir Labkovich, Bialiatski’s colleague.

The Observatory for the protection of human rights defenders – joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and World Organisation against Torture (OMCT) – condemned the decision of the city court to dismiss Bialiatski’s appeal.

New head of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, condemned the decision of the Minsk court:

I deplore today’s decision by the Minsk district court to dismiss an appeal against a four and a half year prison sentence for Ales Bialiatski, a prominent human right activist. This is another bad day for justice in Belarus.

The European Parliament believes that the tax evasion charges against Bialiatski have been politically motivated and unjustified. Bialiatski should be released unconditionally along with the remaining 14 political prisoners, including two former presidential candidates. I regret the court’s decision to shut down the offices of Human Rights Centre Viasna, which had been led by Bialiatski.

I also condemn the decision of the Belarus Supreme Court to uphold death penalty sentence to Uladzislau Kavalyou and Dzmitry Kanavalau, convicted on dubious charges for carrying out a terrorist attack in Minsk subway in April 2011. Their execution is imminent, although international human rights groups reported that the trial had not been fair and the case may have been fabricated.

I urge President Lukashenka to pardon the two men and to introduce a moratorium on death penalty.

I also welcome yesterday’s decision of the Foreign Affairs Council to broaden the restrictive measures against Belarus officials involved in human rights violations. However, those sanctions should go further and target companies directly financing the regime, as requested by resolutions of the European Parliament.

The European Parliament supports Belarus human rights organisations and the civil society. It believes the European Union should offer visa facilitation for Belarus citizens.

On January 24th, representatives of the FIDH and the Human rights centre “Viasna”, the Committee on International Control over the Human Rights Situation in Belarus, Yury Zhibladze, Olga Zakharova, and a mother of a sentenced to death, Lyubov Kovalyova, took part in a discussion on human rights situation in Belarus.

Representatives of the European Parliament and its vice-president, Jacek Protasewicz, supporte human rights activist Ales Bialiatski.

On the same day representatives of the FIDH and HRC Viasna met with the Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle. During a 40 minute talk Štefan Füle said he supports all Belarusian human rights activists, members of the Human rights centre Viasna, Ales Bialiatski who in spite of difficult conditions keep on working on human rights.