Malchanau Will Not Be Released
The court rejected political prisoner’s appeal.
The Minsk Regional Court turned down the appeal by opposition youth
activist Aliaksandr Malchanau against his latest prison sentence.
“Despite the fact that Aliaksandr's mother has recently died and his father is disabled, the court upheld the sentence,” human rights activist Hanna Shapucka said.
Mr. Malchanau's lawyer missed the appeal hearing due to an illness. The opposition activist was absent from the hearing too.
Aliaksandr Malchanau, 23, was sentenced to 18 months in a high security correctional institution on a charge of stealing 450,000 rubles ($54) worth of scrap metal.
Mr. Malchanau pleaded not guilty. He told the judge that gathering scrap metal was his only source of income after he had been convicted and served eight months in prison for participating in a post-election protest staged in Minsk on December 19, 2010.
The activist had his every application for a job turned down, and, according to him, he picked up rusty metal objects in the abandoned and unguarded storage yard of Zhodzina forging plant because he was aware that people had not been prevented from gathering scrap metal there.
He pointed out that the prosecution had failed to prove that the allegedly stolen metal objects constituted “equipment” really valued by the company.
Mr. Malchanau’s lawyer said that she viewed the sentence as unfair and disproportionate.
In March 2011, Mr. Malchanau was sentenced to three years in
prison over partaking in the December 19, 2010 post-election protest. In
September, he was released under Aliaksandr Lukashenka's pardon.