Brest activist sentenced to four years in prison

2013 2013-09-23T12:51:24+0300 2013-09-23T12:51:24+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Vital Koush

Vital Koush

Brest District Court re-examined the case of civil society activist Vital Koush and found him guilty of plotting the illegal crossing of the Belarusian-Polish border by the citizens of India.

Vital Koush was arrested in early September of 2012 on charges of promoting illegal immigration. The charges argued that the activist allegedly helped eight citizens of India pass the Belarusian-Polish border with the use of a rope. The Indians were detained and deported from Belarus, while a video later posted online showed that during their detention in the pre-trial prison the illegal immigrants were forced to give false testimony against Vital Koush.

However, the Judge refused to summon the Indians to the trial, saying this was "technically impossible", and in March Vital Koush was sentenced to four years of prison with confiscation of property.

On April 30, Brest Regional Court examined the appeal and quashed the conviction, sending the case for retrial. In his appeal, Vital Koush said the charges were based on fraudulent investigation reports and contradictory testimony of the Indians mentioned in the case. As a result, on September 23, Judge Uladzimir Shalamitski of Brest District Court ruled to confirm the previously pronounced verdict.

Vital Koush was active in a number of political campaigns in Brest (including as an independent observer during the presidential elections in 2010). The activist was repeatedly detained during rallies of solidarity with political prisoners.