Belarusian border gurads tortured Indian migrants to obtain false testimonies against civil activist Vital Koush
On 4 September the civil activist from Brest Vital Koush received charges under Article 371-1, part 2 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus – organization of unlawful migration, which envisages up to 7 years of imprisonment.
The evidence is grounded on testimonies of the illegal immigrants from India, detained on the Belarusian border.
The detention of Koush was performed like in a criminal thriller: when he went out of his house on 1 September, two unidentified people in sportswear beat him in presence of his wife and son, forcibly pulled him into a car and drove away in unknown direction. His relatives weren't informed about his location for two days. Zhana Koush demanded that the local police recognized the forced kidnapping of her husband.
However, this story has a continuation. A Ukrainian journalist and political refugee Anatol Shary conducted an independent investigation into this case and concluded that the Indians were forced to give the testimonies against Vital Koush.
The details of “Koush's case” were published at the website korrespondent.net.
In particular, Anatol Shary writes: In the night of 14-15 May Brest border guards detained 8 Indian nationals who tried to illegally cross the border with Poland. Crossing the border by third-world citizens is a usual thing. However, usually illegal migrants use the channels which are established by border guards and are assisted by professional guides.
This time the pursuers of happy life in Europe went on their own and were detained. They were kept in jail for two months, beaten and not fed. Such treatment to the detainees had a purpose – the Indians were shown photos of the people they had never seen before and were prompted to confess this “fact”. As a result, the prisoners yielded to the pressure and even showed the house in which one of the “criminals” lived.
However, one must show a miraculous abilities of orientation to remember and show the location of a house in a village.
Vital Koush was detained at 4 p.m. on 1 September in the village of Tsikhinichy, right near the house of his relatives. People in mufti threw him into a car and drove away in unknown direction. His wife and son were present during the strange detention, which looked more like a kidnapping.
They couldn't understand where he was taken at first. The district police department told he was in the pre-trial prison, whereas the prison guards denied it.
On 4 September Vital Kousha was charged under Article 371-1, part 2 of the Criminal Code, “Organization of illegal migration”. The testimonies of the Indians were used as main evidence.
Koush was well-known to the Belarusian secret services for his civil activism. In particular, he was detained as a participant of an action of solidarity with political prisoner and was an election observer in 2010.
The practice when criminal proceedings are initiated against “politically disloyal” citizens is not new. Many of them are kept in the Belarusian and the Ukrainian prisons for hooliganism, robbery, rape, etc. - as it is impossible to prove one's innocence in a country where the police, the court and the prosecutor's office act as one.
However, I managed to contact the Indians who had given the false testimonies against Koush, in Facebook. To their credit, they readily agreed to give comments concerning this situation. Here is the comment, recorded by themselves. It's is in Hindi, but a translation is provided,” writes Anatol Shary.
“I Maninder, Singa, a citizen of India, was detained in Belarus, on the border with Poland, in the evening of 14-15 May, during an attempt to cross the border. I was kept in prison for two months, beaten and given no food. I was repeatedly shown photos of the people I did not know and was ordered to tell that they had helped me. On 6 July we were taken out to identify a house which was not familiar to me. One policeman raised my hand and forced me to point at the house which I hadn't known. I confirm having given false testimonies against the people whom I did not know, as I was exhausted by tortures and hunger and wanted to return home”.