Three months of arrest for wish to perform alternative civilian service
Ivan Mikhailau, member of the Messianic Jewish congregation New Testament has been sentenced to 3 months of arrest. According to the European Belarus website, Ivan Mikhailau was found guilty of a criminal offence ‘for draft evasion’.
Ivan Mikhailau refused to perform compulsory military service as it is contrary to his religious believes. He demanded to be assigned to civilian alternative service, in line with Article 57 of the Constitution. Besides, Ivan Mikhailau is the elder son in a family with many children, and he helps to support the family considerably.
Demands of Mikhailau haven’t been heard by the Defense Ministry, Presidential Administration and other agencies where Mikhailau’s family addressed many times. A criminal case for ‘draft evasion’ (Article 435.1 of the Criminal Code) has been brought against him. The maximum penalty for such a denial is restriction of freedom for two years.
Ivan Mikhailau was guarded to court from the pre-trial prison where he stayed since his arrest on 20 December 2009.
According to information of the campaign For Alternative Military Service, prosecutor Cherapovich asked to find Mikhailau guilty of committing a criminal offence under Article 435.1 of the Criminal Code of Belarus (evasion from the army draft ) and sentence him to 5 months of arrest.
Attorney Svyatlana Harbatok in her statement many times referred to article 57 of the Constitution (that guarantees the right to alternative civilian service) and to the CIS Model law On Alternative (Civilian) Service.
Ivan Mikhailau insists he is not guilty, and that he hadn’t evaded the call-up campaign. He openly insisted on realization of his constitutional right to perform alternative civilian service, stating that it is not his fault the ‘parliament’ and other state bodies are in passing the law which would put the Constitution in practice.