US lawyers accuse Belarusian authorities of torturing Zeltser

2009 2009-01-14T18:06:46+0200 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Patton Boggs law firm has filed an urgent complaint with a UN Special Rapporteur on Torture demanding to investigate torturing of Emanuel Zeltser.

As the press service of the firm reports, the complaint alleges that having detained Zeltser on 12 March 2008, Belarus violated its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Zeltser ‘has faced physical beatings, inhumane and unsanitary treatment... The Belarusian authorities have continuously withheld physician-prescribed medications,’ BelaPAN reports.

Patton Boggs notes that according to the medical report, E.Zeltser can die without medical treatment. Independent American physician Albert Benchabbat, who was allowed to examine Zeltser in penal colony #15 of Mahilou on 6 January, thinks his patient ‘is unlikely to survive in the current conditions, being deprived of his vital medications’. The physician called to release him for a surgery.

The lawyers urged the UN Special Rapporteur to give the Belarusian authorities to understand their actions are inadmissible and must be forbidden.

On 11 August 2008, Minsk city court sentenced E.Zeltser to three years of imprisonment for attempted industrial espionage and the use of fake documents. His secretary Vladlena Funk, arrested at the same time, was sentenced to one year of imprisonment. The Supreme Court of Belarus upheld this judgment on 31 October. All trials were held behind closed doors.

The defense is not going to appeal for pardon, as the prisoners don’t admit their guilt. Emanuel Zeltser is serving his term of punishment in penal colony #15 of Mahilou, Funk is in women’s penal colony #4 of Homel.

The United States insists on release of E.Zeltser on humanitarian grounds in connection with his poor state of health.