Emanuel Zeltser goes on hunger-strike

2009 2009-06-10T19:19:39+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

The arrested US citizen protests against arbitrary action of Belarusian authorities and demands immediate release.

As said by his lawyer Zmitser Harachka, Zeltser went on hunger strike out of despair. His client hadn’t been offered to be included in the amnesty yet. ‘The administration of the colony in Mahiliou hasn’t considered including him into the amnesty as there is no document from Minsk city court that there is no suit against him. Mr Zeltser believes that the Belarusian authorities have done that on purpose, for him not to be included in the amnesty. He said: I do not see any other way out except hunger strike,’ Zmitser Harachka said.

As said by the lawyer, ‘it is not the best way out. Zeltser’s physical condition is bad, and undoubtedly the hunger strike would worsen his state’.

Zmitser Harachka noted that the law on amnesty has come in force almost a month ago. Emanuel Zeltser is to be included in the amnesty formally.

‘For example persons convicted to the term up to 6 years, who have served one forth of the term, are included in the amnesty dedicated to the 65th anniversary of Belarus’ liberation. Emanuel Zeltser has served this term. He has been sentenced to three years, and he has served more than a year,’ Zmitser Harachka said.

As said by Zeltser’s lawyer, the prisoner stays in the medical unit of Mahiliou colony. “His tests' results have deteriorated, he feels worse,’ Zmitser Harachka underlined.

Emanuel Zeltser and Vladlena Funk were detained in Minsk on 12 March 2008. On 11 August Minsk City Court found them guilty of the use of fake documents and attempted commercial espionage. Zeltser was sentenced to thee years in prison, his secretary Vladlena Funk (Bruskova) got one year of imprisonment.

All trials were held behind closed doors.

Media supposed earlier Zeltser’s arrest was connected with the dispute over property of businessman Badri Patarkarsishvili who died in London. Zeltser is a former emigrant from the Soviet Union, he is an expert in organized crime and money laundering in Russia and former Soviet republics.

The United States demands to release Emanuel Zeltser immediately on humanitarian grounds.