Uladzimir Niakliayeu: "The trial was arranged over my head"
Leninski District Court of Minsk was scheduled to consider today the case of the former presidential candidate, leader of the civil campaign "Tell the Truth", poet Uladzimir Niakliayeu, who was expected to be released from serving a sentence of two years imprisonment suspended for 2 years under Par. 1, Art. 342 of the Criminal Code (organization of activities that breach public order, or participating in them).
In fact, the trial took place on July 23. This became known after a clerk of the court invited Uladzimir Niakliayeu to her office. After a few minutes Niakliayeu left the room and told reporters that the trial had taken place and he had been issued a ruling stating that the politician had served his sentence without penalties, so he was subject to exemption from further punishment. Thus, the trial took place without the participation of Uladzimir Niakliayeu himself and his lawyer. Even Judge Volha Kochur at that time was occupied by another trial.
On the steps of the House of Justice, where the trial was expected to take place, an impromptu press conference was arranged and Uladzimir Niakliayeu said that he did not feel free. He said that he had been transferred to a separate cell from a general one, “In Belarus, all citizens are, in a sense, prisoners and hostages, even slaves.”
As yet, Niakliayeu does not know if his criminal record is still valid. “My lawyers say that if a person is not serving a sentence in prison, a criminal record is not retained, but the court said that it would be maintained for two more years. So I do not know if I regained my full civil rights,” said the former presidential candidate.
Meanwhile, according to Par. 1, Art. 97 of the Criminal Code, “persons sentenced to suspended sentences (the cases of Uladzimir Niakliayeu and Iryna Khalip) and probation (Vazniak, Dzmitryeu, Fiaduta, Rymasheuski, Martseleu) shall have their conviction removed from official records immediately after exemption from punishment or after the expiry of the probation. Conviction for appropriate periods of time remains for those who served their sentences in prison (Seviarynets) and those pardoned (they are considered as persons who have served their sentence).
The work of journalists outside the court was prevented by the police. In particular, they tried to check the accreditation of Belsat TV journalists. The area around the courthouse was patrolled by four plainclothes police officers and all the people who came to support Uladzimir Niakliayeu were filmed.