Terrorism case: unprecedented security measures and pressurization of journalists
On 15 September there
started the trial of Dzmitry Kanavalau and Uladzislau Kavaliou, charged of exploding
a bomb on the Kastrychnitskaya metro
station on 11 April 2011. They are also suspected in explosions in Vitsebsk and
Minsk in 2005
and 2008 and 30 more criminal episodes.
10.40 a.m. The Hall of the House of Justice has 430 seats, 300 of them are occupied.
At 10.50 a court officer stated that students could be let in the court hall. About 30 students came in and sat down at the last rows.
Unprecedented security measures were taken in the Hall of Justice. Journalists were directed to certain places after passing a metal detector and registration. The stage at which the judge, the state accusers and the people’s assessors are located, is surrounded by 10 riot policemen. All rear seats are occupied by officers of security services dressed in civvies.
The cellular signals don’t reach the court hall. As said by Aliaksandr Lastouski, press-secretary of the Police Bureau of the Minsk City Executive Committee, it was done on purpose in order to provide the immunity of the trial.
Kanavalau and Kavaliou were put into a special cage which is guarded by four policemen in turns. All exits are controlled by the riot police.
11.10 a.m. The trial begins. It is held by Aliaksandr Fedartsou, Deputy Chair of the Supreme Court. The surnames of the people’s assessors are Hrytsko and Zgarouski. The state accusation is represented by Aliaksei Stuk, Deputy Prosecutor General, with the aid of two other prosecutors, senior investigators of the General Procuracy Mironchyk and Tsimafeyeu.
The defendants’ lawyers are Stanislau Abrazei and Lepretau.
121 casualties or their legal representatives are present in the court hall. 401 casualties didn’t come to the trial. 234 of them addressed the court with the requests to consider the case in their absence.
11.25 a.m. Aliaksandr Krytu, father of the casualty Inesa Krutaya, made several solicitations. One of them is to abolish the death penalty as an attribute of barbarism before the beginning of the trial. Another is to introduce the jury trial, so that the verdict could be issued by a jury. Casualties Lebiadzinskaya and Inkevich joined his solicitations.
Casualty Saakian stated that he hadn’t been given enough time to familiarize with the case materials, which raises doubts in the quality of the investigation.
One of the casualties, Tsiutsiunou, stated he was against the photo and video shooting during the trial. The judge granted his petition. Cameramen and photo correspondents left the court hall.
Kanavalau’s lawyer told the court that his defendant solicited for a private talk with the lawyer. The accusation objected. The judge dismissed the solicitation.
The state accuser Aliaksei Stuk read the charges to Uladzislau Kanavalau, who is charged with 12 criminal episodes committed in 2000-2011. This took more than 90 minutes.
Dzmitry Kanavalau was charged with terrorism which claimed human lives, inflicted bodily injuries of different degrees of severity, and other grave consequences, unlawful actions with explosives and explosive devices, malignant and especially malignant hooliganism and purposeful destruction or defilement of property in a generally dangerous way.
1.45 p.m. Before the announcement of a break Judge Aliaksandr Fedartsou prohibited the journalists from contacting with casualties and witnesses and taking comments from them. According to him, it could be treated as an attempt to influence the trial. He also asked the journalists to abstain from making any comments on the case, threatening with criminal prosecution otherwise. Human rights defenders considered it as a violation of the Law On Mass Media and the civil right to receive information.
2.30 p.m. The trial continues. The state accuser Aliaksei Stuk states that defendant Kanavalau had taken active measures to escape the detention after the dactylography, and exploded his device on the Kastrychnitskaya metro station two days after it. The bomb weighed at least 12.5 kilos, was made of several substances and contained iron balls and bars. He also stated that the other defendant, Kavaliou, had known about the preparation of the blast since 2010. In April 2011 he had acted in collusion with Kanavalau and helped him to find a rented apartment for the preparation of the terrorist act.
3.30 p.m. The accusation to Uladzislau Kavaliou is read: “Uladzislau Kavaliou didn’t inform law-enforcement bodies about the preparation of the explosions because of the false feeling of comradeship. Kavaliou had a real opportunity to inform about these crimes.” The accusation enumerates the episodes which are connected to his participation in the preparation and implementation of the explosions and in unlawful actions with explosives.
Dzmitry Kanavalau admitted his guilt in the terrorist acts in the Minsk metro and on Peramozhtsau Avenue, as well as unlawful actions with explosives, but denied other episodes, including the malignant hooliganism in the beginning of 2000-ies.
Uladzislau Kavaliou admitted having bought trotyl cartridges and passed them to Kanavalau, as well as cases of malignant hooliganism in the beginning of 2000-ies. However, he denied some episodes, including his participation in the terrorist acts in the metro and on the Peramozhtsau Avenue. He also stated that he refused from his earlier testimony about his involvement in the terrorist act in the metro.
4.10 p.m. a break was announced till 11 a.m. on 16 September.