Vitsebsk Regional Court turns down the appeal of Ihar Pastnou against forced psychiatric treatment
The ruling of the
judge of the Vitsebsk District Court Tatsiana Dzehtsiarova, who
sanctioned the forced medical treatment of the psychiatrist Pastnou,
was left standing by the Vitsebsk Regional Court. The appeal was
considered closed to the public: journalists, human rights defenders
and Pastnou's trustee Siarhei Ryzhou weren't admitted to it.
According to Siarhei Ryzhou, the consideration was appointed very hastily: yesterday afternoon the regional court stated that the case materials weren't at its disposal, but after 4 p.m. it became known that the trial would take place on 12 September.
"I went to the Regional Court to review the material using my rights of the trustee. I received a refusal with a reference to an oral order of teh deputy head of the regional court. I wasn't told who would consider the appeal and didn't manage to find it by the end of the working hours. We didn't manage to find the name of the judge who studied the appeal at night, as in the morning it was stated that the trial would be closed. I twice presented my power of attornney of Ihar Pastnou, but wasn't let in the court room,” said Mr. Ryzhou.
According to human rights defender Leanid Svetsik, the new counsel of Ihar Pastnou wasn't admitted to the consideration of the cassation appeal either:
“Everything took place so quickly, that we had no opportunity to make an agreement with the lawyer so that the later could receive the power of attorney from Pastnou. The hospital where he is kept is in the country, and the consideration of the appeal was appointed on the morning. Thus, the trial took place without the counsel. It was attended just by the prosecutor and representatives of the medical institution - the deputy head of the regional Centre for Psychiatry and Narcology Ihar Svirkunou and the head of the department Natallia Vasilyeva.”
It is still unknown how the medics explained the absence of Ihar Pastnou. However, he wasn't brought to court again, as it had been done on 21 August, when the Vitsebsk District Court sanctioned his forced psychiatric treatment.
The course of the medical treatment was appointed on the basis of the findings of the medical commission which consisted of Pastnou's colleagues including the administration of the hospital where he worked as a psychiatrist. Human rights defenders consider it to as a serious violation: examination in the institution where a person works cannot be objective. However, this circumstance was ignored by the regional court, as well as the fact that the court of the first instance violated other rights of Mr. Pastnou: his right to defense and a fair trial: he had no lawyer and he wasn't taken to the trial, which deprived him of the opportunity to say something in his defense.
On 16 August Ihar Pastnou was placed for involuntary psychiatric examination with the permission of the prosecutor. It happened shortly after the appearance of his most recent video address on the Internet, where he criticizes the activities of the Vitsebsk medical institutions, including the psychiatric hospital where he worked and whose patient he has been made. In his address he also mentioned the earlier threats to direct him to involuntary psychiatric treatment.
On 21 August the Vitsebsk Regional Court sanctioned such treatment on appeal of the chief physician, Alena Martynava. Ihar Pastnou protests against it, complaining of feeling unwell after being forcedly stuffed and injected with drugs.
Belarusian Helsinki Committee and the Human Rights Center "Viasna" issued a joint statement regarding the forced hospitalization of Ihar Pastnou. They demand to review the decision on his forced treatment within the framework of an open trial with the observance of the established procedures and principles of fair trial.
MEP Marek Migalski asked the European Commission and the Minister of Health of Poland Bartash Arlukovicz to intercede for the doctor, who has been forcibly locked in the psychiatric hospital for his criticism of the Belarusian authorities. Mr. Migalski is sure that it is a "politically motivated sentence" and "another attempt to destroy civil society in Belarus". In this regard, the deputy called to take all possible steps to take action in this matter.
The international human rights organization "Amnesty International" declared its readiness to recognize Pastnou a prisoner of conscience.