Mahilioŭ Regional Court turns down appeal by political prisoner Mikalai Dziadok
The Mahilioŭ Regional Court considered today an appeal by political prisoner Mikalai Dziadok, whose initial sentence by the court of Mahilioŭ’s Lieninski District Court was extended on February 26 by one year and three days. The prisoner was charged with 16 violations of prison rules, the main of which was wearing a tracksuit instead of prison uniform.
The consideration of the appeal was observed by Valiantsin Stefanovich, deputy chairman of the Human Rights Centre “Viasna”, and member of the organization’s council Uladzimir Labkovich, who commented on today’s decision:
“The Regional Court, which was composed of its Chair Sviatlana Burako, judges Yury Rudkouski and Katsiaryna Vaitsiankova, as well as a representative of the Prosecutor’s Office Ms. Amosava, having considered the appeal, confirmed the verdict of the Lieninski District Court, which earlier extended the term of imprisonment.”
Uladzimir Labkovich also said that the lawyer asked to invite Mikalai Dziadok, but the prosecutor did not support the request. The counsel argued that the charges were biased and unfair, while the violations, which resulted in the penalties, were not dangerous and malicious. He also stressed the flimsy and contradictory evidence by prison staff, but the trial was extremely formal and hasty and did not accept the arguments by the defense.
The human rights defenders regard the decision as a continuation of the persecution of the political prisoner, stressing its illegal and politically motivated nature.
Before the trial, Valiantsin Stefanovich told Radio Liberty’s Belarus service that he was “pessimistic about the coming trial”.
“I do not expect anything. Judging by the latest trends, which we see in the issue of political prisoners, I am pessimistic about the future hearing. I do not think that Dziadok’s appeal will be granted. We have just received a response to our appeal to the House of Representatives demanding the decriminalization of Article 411. They said that they did not see a need to decriminalize it, referring to the fact that this article is in the legislation of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. This, of course, for us is not some kind of example. So I do not hope that the verdict will be canceled. After all, what is happening to Statkevich, the new criminal case against Rubtsou, who has finished reading the case file and is awaiting trial, denial of clemency for Prakapenka – all this testifies to the fact that our government does not want to release political prisoners and make some concessions to the European Union. I think that, at least until the election, this situation will continue. It is unknown what will happen then.”
On January 22, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Belarusian Helsinki Committee and the Human Rights Center “Viasna” issued a joint statement demanding an end to the prosecution of political prisoner Mikalai Dziadok and his immediate release.
Mikalai Dziadok was taken into custody on 3 September 2010. On 27 May 2011, the court of Zavodski district of Minsk sentenced him to 4.5 years of imprisonment in a maximum security penal colony under Part 2 of Art. 339 of the Criminal Code (hooliganism). On 5 December 2012, the conditions of detention were changed to more stringent and he was transferred from colony No. 17 in Škloŭ to prison No. 4 in Mahilioŭ. In November 2014, Mikalai Dziadok faced new criminal charges under Article 411 of the Criminal Code for “willful disobedience to the correctional institution administration”. On 26 February, the court extended his imprisonment by 1 year and 3 days.