Legal experts of Human Rights Center Viasna Give their Estimation of the Court Hearings in Cases against 25 March Action Participants in Minsk.
Valiantsin Stefanovich: “What should be noted is that lately the courts have stopped issuing warnings. I do not even mentions cases dropped because of the absence of corpus delicti. The courts have stopped issuing warnings even to those who have been detained for the first time and pleaded guilty. Even in such cases the courts always rule either to arrest the defendant or, at best, impose a fine. On 28 March the court mostly adopted arrest rulings. In some cases special police officers who testified in court could not give any evidence specifying what the defendant had done. All of the reports were worded in exactly the same way: he took part in an unauthorized procession, shouted Long Live Belarus!, and that's the end of it. When trying the Zubr activist Andrei Baranau, Judge Aliaxei Bychko passed a ruling with no witnesses having testified in the proceedings. Owning to the mass detentions, there appeared a need for a great number of judges to hear the administrative cases against the 25 March action participants. Which was why on 28 March at least five judges together with the court chair Samaseika heard the administrative cases in Tsentralny Borough Court. They were not only judges for administrative cases but also judges that usually do civil and criminal cases".
Uladzimir Labkovich: “The practice established recently should be brought to attention: the detained people are not read their rights in court. The court completely ignores contradictions contained in the testimony provided by the witnesses-police officers. For example, when the case against Viachaslau Siuchyk was heard, the police officers failed to specify where they had detained him and were not sure at all it was them who detained him. According to a report provided, the special police officer Pachtseny simultaneously detained about 20 people in different locations, which testifies either to his extraordinary physical ability or to something else… All the more so that Pachtseny, when testifying in the case against Siuchyk, could not explain how he had detained the defendant. On 25 March people who neither took part in the action nor had any other relation to the events. Because of so many people getting detained, quite a few found themselves behind the bars accidentally. Even they could not convince the court of their innocence. In the case against Siuchyk video materials were shown, in which Siuchyk was nowhere to be seen. Nonetheless, Judge Bychko passed his arrest ruling on the basis of the testimonies provided and the video materials”.