Andrei Haidukou sentenced to 1.5 years in prison in espionage trial
Judge Halina Urbanovich of Vitsebsk Regional Court sentenced today Andrei Haidukou, leader of an unregistered NGO “Union of Young Intellectuals”, to 18 months in a general security penal colony, after he was found guilty of an “attempted crime” under Art. 356.1 of the Criminal Code (“establishment of cooperation with the security services of a foreign state”).
Initially, Andrei Haidukou was charged under Article 356 of the Criminal Code (“treason in the form of intelligence activities”), which is punishable by imprisonment for up to 15 years. However, the charge was later downgraded.
Article 356.1 is a relatively new amendment to the Criminal Code. It was introduced in November 2011. It should be noted that Article 356.1 belongs to the category of crimes that do not pose a great danger to society and for which it is impossible to apply the measure of restraint in the form of custody.
Belarusian human rights activists previously criticized the changes in the Code and insisted on the inadmissibility of non-specific definitions in the legislation, including those that allow for arbitrary or extended interpretation.
The trial of the youth opposition activist from the town of Navapolatsk started on 12 June and has been held behind closed doors.
Today’s session was expected to be public. However, many journalists did not manage to attend the trial, after policemen said the courtroom was full. Apart from that, the police prevented photo and video coverage of the last day of the trial. Human rights defenders Tatsiana Reviaka, Pavel Sapelka and Pavel Levinau were also unable to witness the pronouncement of the verdict.