Prosecution Witnesses Refuse to Testify at Partnerstva Trial
Today prosecution witnesses have appeared in the case of civil initiative of elections observation Partnerstva. It is the second day of the trial in the Tsentralny district of Minsk. Most of prosecution witnesses, mostly former Partnerstva members, were absent from court. I think they are afraid of the high-scale case, and tremble for their security. They do not want to corroborate evidence given to the investigators for some reasons earlier, a father of one of the defendants, Valery Dranchuk, told to the Charter97 press center. As said by Valery Dranchuk, judge is set to subject them to a compulsory process.
The trial is held behind the closed doors. Neither journalists nor foreign diplomats have been allowed to attend the court. Even family members have not been allowed to be present. Lawyers, who left the court room during the break, could not say anything as they had signed a nondisclosure agreement.
Valery Dranchuk tells that today family members have managed to look at Partnerstva activists at last. Previously the persons on trial were convoyed from the court through a back entry. Today the defendants went out of the central entry of the Tsentralny court.
The guys looked tired, but they are courageous. We greeted them with applaud, Valery Dranchuk said.
The trial is to continue tomorrow, at 10 a.m.
As is known, four activists of Partnerstva, M. Astrejka, E. Branitskaya, T. Dranchuk and A. Shalajka, were detained on February 21 and stayed in prison since that time. They are charged with organizing and leading a structure infringing rights and duties of citizens, which had not been registered by the state. The article envisages an arrest for up to six month or imprisonment for up to three years. Human rights activists and international institutions say that its a politically motivated trial.