Pavel Sapelka: “Pre-trial agreement is a progressive standard, which only works with an independent court”

2014 2014-04-24T15:26:24+0300 2014-04-24T15:26:24+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Pavel Sapelka

Pavel Sapelka

Belarus can introduce a mechanism for the pre-trial agreement on cooperation with the suspect (accused) in a criminal case. This initiative is supported by the Investigative Committee.

In an interview with the Sovetskaya Belorussiya daily, the SC chairman Valiantsin Shayeu explained that such an agreement will allow the suspect inform about the crimes of other persons or the crimes which are not unknown to anyone.

“It will not be just an agreement between the victim and perpetrator. This will be an agreement between the prosecutor and the offender, who will agree to cooperate with the investigation,” says Shayeu. “The essence of the agreement is that when such obligations are met it will guarantee the greatest possible reduction of sentence.”

Chairman of the Investigative Committee stresses that this mechanism will not be a way to buy exemption from liability.

At present, this mechanism is regulated by law – the defendant may recover damages caused to state property and ask the president for pardon. In addition, suspects and defendants are offered to cooperate with the investigation, which is regarded as extenuating circumstances.

“But this promise is not always fulfilled,” says lawyer Pavel Sapelka. “The reason is that the investigation and prosecution cannot guarantee in advance what the decision of the court will be like.”

Recent cases against death convicts Aliaksandr Hrunou and Eduard Lykau show that cooperation with the investigation has not been considered as extenuating circumstances.

“The introduction of the mechanism of pre-trial agreement is a progressive standard,” says Sapelka. “However, it is unclear how it will be implemented in practice. It is not clear either how to check the information provided by the suspect in order to agree on a smaller sentence? Or how to make sure he did not accuse innocent people in order to get himself a lighter sentence? Moreover, in the absence of any independent courts, the progressive provision may simply not work.”