Case over portraits of missing people: Courts on regions ignore decision of Supreme Court

2009 2009-07-23T17:04:35+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

On Jule 22, the Homel region court dismissed a cassation appeal of the oppositionists convicted for the picket of memory of kidnapped Yury Zakharanka.

We remind that on June 25, judge of the Tsentralny district court Maryna Domnenka fined the participants of the picket in memory of former interior minister Yury Zakharanka, Radio Svaboda reports. Leader of the Homel opposition Uladzimir Katsora was arrested for three days. The politicians declared himself on dry hunger strike just in the courtroom protesting against the court decision. The oppositionists filed a cassation appeal to the Homel region court.

On July 22, the appeals of Vasil Palyakou, Uladzimir Katsora, Anatol Paplauny, Yury Zakharanka, and Pyotr Kuznyatsou were considered by judge of the region court Dzmitry Uloha in absence of the appellants. None of them went to court because the court didn’t consider the cassation appeals on time, when the convicted were on hunger strike.

“It was absolutely clear what decision will be taken,” Uladzimir Katsora says. “It made no sense to attend this so called trial. I think the hungry strike was useful. It led to a wide political action in Homel. It was a joint work of all democratic forces, it became known for the public and authorities. In my view, all parties will make conclusions.”

The oppositionists draw attention to an absurd character of the Belarusian legal system. The judgement, delivered by the Tsentralny district court on June 25, in fact contradicts the decision of the Supreme Court.

Some years ago, chairman of the Supreme Court Valyantsin Sukala acquitted n activist for a memory picket and explained that that holding a portrait of former interior minister Yury Zakharanka doesn’t violate the law on organizing and holding mass street events.

“By our cases the authorities correct the “mistake” of the Supreme Court it made before,” convicted Pyotr Kuznyatsou says. “The “mistake” didn’t allow the authorities to suppress protest pickets in full in the current situation. Making a new decision, the authorities create new mechanisms that will help to bring public activists to responsibility. That is the sense of our case.”

The activists from Homel are going to appeal against the court decision in higher instances.

“Chairman of the Supreme Court Sukala will face a difficult situation,” Vasil Palyakou, head of the Homel branch of the United Civil Party, said. “Sukala will have to refer our picket on May 7 to mass street events, and cross out his previous decision or to cancel the decision of the Tsentralny district court of Homel and the region court. If the Supreme Court dismissed our appeal, we’ll go to the UN Human Rights Committee.