Court issues verdicts to members of Partnership
The judge of the court of Tsentralny borough of Minsk Leanid Iasinovich, has passed a sentence to activists of the public association of election monitoring Partnership. Mikalai Astrejka has been sentenced to two years in minimum-security correctional labour facility, Tsimafei Dranchuk to one year of minimum-security correctional labour facility, Enira Branitskaia and Aliaksandr Shalaika to 6 months of imprisonment. On August 21 Branitskaia and Shalaika are to be released.
Public activists were detained in the run-up to the presidential elections, on 21 February and since that time stayed in prison. They were charged with running an illegal organization which had not been registered by the state that encroaches on peoples rights. Under that article the accused could be sentenced to a term of from six months up to three years in prison. The prosecutor has demanded the harshest sentence under that article.
Its a closed trial, neither journalists nor foreign diplomats have been allowed to attend the court. Even family members have not been allowed to be present in the courtroom.
Human rights activist Valiantsin Stefanovich gave the following commentary on the sentence passed to the Partnership activists: First of all, we are convinced that the second part of article 193 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus (organizing and managing an unregistered organization) is illegal. It contradicts the Constitution and international legal acts, first of all, the Covenant on civil and political rights which guarantees the freedom of unions. It is illegal to form an organization that breaches human rights of other people. Thus, part 2 of article 193 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus is illegal, politically motivated, adopted to chase Lukashenkas rivals and designed to limit the right for unions. Monitoring of the election was the only purpose of Partnership. The sentence passed today points at the political persecution held in Belarus. And the issue of the election monitoring makes the authorities extremely nervous.