Siarhei Kavalenka fined one million rubles

2013 2013-03-29T15:06:00+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Vitsebsk Pershamaiski District Court sentenced Siarhei Kavalenka, member of the Conservative Christian Party “Belarusian Popular Front”, to a fine of one million rubles based on police reports saying that the former political prisoner was drunk, used “obscene language” and “waved his arms” on March 25. The activist did not admit any of these charges.

The trial of Siarhei Kavalenka was opened by Judge Natallia Karablina o nMarch 26, and resumed after a three-day break by another judge, Valiantsina Kismeroshkina.

Everything else was as usual: the courtroom was filled with more than two dozen police officers in uniform and in civilian clothes. Part of those in plain clothes had taken their seats in the courtroom before the trial, while the policemen in uniform said the courtroom was closed. Later, a complaint against police-related offences in the court building, when policemen commanded in the courtroom instead of the secretary, ordering to stand up, making rude remarks to those present and so on, was submitted to the Interior Ministry by Vitsebsk pro-democratic activist Piotr Ivanou. A similar complaint was lodged by Siarhei Kavalenka, asking it to attach to the case file as evidence of lack of confidence to the court, which in fact was subordinate to police officers.

Two police officers were witnesses in the court, both are employees of police patrol service, Aliaksei Novikau and Aliaksandr Davydouski. They said that they stopped Siarhei Kavalenka on the road for wearing no flicker. Although the traffic police later charged him with crossing the street outside a crosswalk. According to policemen, the activist resented the fact that he was detained by a police patrol, instead of road police, saying that he did it “with the use of foul language” and “waving his arms”. In addition, Kavalenka reportedly refused to follow them to the police station, and he was warned that these actions were “disobedience to the police.” After that, he agreed to get in the car. But during the argument the policemen allegedly smelled alcohol, and later mentioned that he had been swaying, and took Siarhei Kavalenka to hospital for a medical examination.

Further evidence provided by a doctor, Aliaksandr Lebedzeu, said that the activist refused to undergo an alcohol test. The doctor only confirmed the policemen’s words about the smell of alcohol, describing all other signs as normal behavior: there was no “swaying” or violent behavior...

Siarhei Kavalenka insisted that the case against him was unfair:

“On the road behind me there was a man in civilian clothes. When a police car pulled up, he jumped out from behind me and whispered something in the ear of a policeman. In the police department I was charged under a trumped-up report of an administrative offence (Article 17.1 of the Code on Administrative Offences). When I was escorted to the detention center, I was illegally subjected to special means (handcuffs). In the detention center, I was also subjected to cruel, degrading treatment: I was in solitary confinement, with no individual beds and no furniture; bedding was not given, so I had to sleep on the floor; the toilet was broken, and there was no washbasin and no drinking-water tank in the cell; toilet paper and soap were not given, either. On March 26, when they brought me to the court building, the judge re-draft some documents, and I was taken to the police department and back to the court in a special police bus, a vehicle for transporting persons held in custody, as provided by the Criminal Procedure Code, which violated my right to the presumption of innocence,” says the activist.

The activist said that the police harassed him for his political views, which is why he was arrested on Freedom Day. Perhaps, the police decided to “get ahead” in the possibility of having another white-red-white flag hanging in the city, which is what the activist is well-known for.

Siarhei Kavalenka says he is going to appeal the court ruling, which was imposed, in his opinion, on the basis of a fraudulent police report.