Pavel Sapelka: Trials in prisons actually held behind closed doors
Lawyer Pavel Sapelka, who was not allowed to attend a circuit trial held in Škloŭ penal colony No. 17 to address the issue of changing the regime of detention of political prisoner Mikalai Statkevich, has lodged a complaint with the Mahilioŭ regional office of the Department of Corrections. Since the consideration of criminal cases in all courts shall be open, except in certain cases, Pavel Sapelka believes that the incident limited his rights.
He asked to investigate the facts, identity those responsible for the offense and punish the person under disciplinary procedures, to clarify the procedure of citizens’ access to court hearings held in prisons, as well as to secure compliance with the standards of a fair trial and the principle of transparency.
Head of the Department of Corrections’ office in Mahilioŭ Mr. Skamarokh said in his reply to the lawyer that an audit failed to establish facts of unlawful actions by representatives of the administration of penal colony No. 17.
Ignoring the arguments mentioned in the complaint, the official says that others have the right to visit penal institutions by consent of the administration of these institutions or their respective parent bodies.
“The court session that you wanted to visit was public, but was held in the territory of restricted access facility, and therefore free access to its territory is prohibited.”
In fact, the reply argues that mobile trials, which take place in penal colonies and other places of detention, are held behind closed doors, and citizens cannot use the right to attend the hearings.
Pavel Sapelka disagrees with the response and will appeal against the actions of prison officials to a higher agency.