Mikalai Autukhovich Initiates Creation of International Commission for Legal Expertise of Sentences of Belarusian Courts
Several years ago the entrepreneur Mikalai Autukhovich was found guilty in evasion from payment of taxes for transporting passengers and luggage without registration of firm, which resulted in an exceptionally large loss to the budge of the Hrodna city. On 6 June 2006 he was sentenced to 3,5 years in medium security prison with confiscation of property and deprival of the right to business for five years. On 18 January 2008 the imprisonment with replaced with corrective labor. Belarusian human rights activists consider Autukhovich a prisoner of conscience.
‘We don’t want ordinary Belarusian citizens to wait 3-5 years for receiving a decision of the European court on human rights. We need it to be done more urgently. The majority of the people, who I was serving my prison term with, were imprisoned illegally – some of them received harder sentences then they could have received and others could receive administrative punishment instead of criminal,’ pointed Autukhovich.
He says that his initiative has been completely supported by the US Ambassador to Belarus Karen Stewart. ‘At the end of March we will address the European Commission with this initiative as well. Now we are quickly preparing the documents witnessing the necessity of creation of the international commission for legal expertise of verdicts of the Belarusian courts. We hope that this initiative will be supported,’ said M.Autukhovich.
The former entrepreneur hopes that these actions will do away with arbitrary decisions of the Belarusian court systems. He also emphasizes that his initiative is not political, but a civil one, and concerns all citizens of Belarus. Autukhovich expressed his readiness to cooperate with all structures who deal with protection of the prisoners’ rights in Belarus. For instance, he already cooperates with the organizing committee of the organization for protection of the prisoners’ rights Above the barrier.