Belarusian court disappoints OSCE head
According to www.osce.org
BRUSSELS, 4 August 2006 - The OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht, today voiced deep concern at guilty verdicts and subsequent prison sentences handed to four Belarusians accused of having intended to observe the presidential elections of 19 March.
I am disturbed by the application of the Criminal Code in a case linked to peaceful intentions to observe the presidential elections, Minister De Gucht said. The long sentences given to two of the young persons can only be said to be disproportionate to the charges. All four have done nothing to merit imprisonment.
It is also disappointing that the trial was held behind closed doors, with relatives, journalists, OSCE officials and other observers refused access. This reinforces my earlier criticism of the entire handling of alleged offences arising out of the circumstances surrounding the March presidential elections, Minister De Gucht said.
The Chairman-in-Office repeated his call for restraint by Belarusian authorities as they deal with such alleged offences.
I believe it is a mistake to add even more individuals to an already extensive list of politically motivated convictions, he said. All political detainees in Belarus should be released.