Lawyer Pavel Sapelka comments on charges against Ales Mikhalevich
On September 20, it was reported that the Investigative Committee refused to drop charges against Ales Mikhalevich, former presidential candidate who returned to Belarus after nearly five years the Czech Republic. The criminal case was opened in December 2010 after his involvement in a peaceful protest in Minsk.
According to Ales Mikhalevich, he was charged with organizing mass disturbances. He was held in the KGB detention center for two months. After his release from prison, Mikhalevich said at a press conference that he was subjected to ill-treatment, along with other presidential candidates and their campaign activists, and then left the country to escape persecution by the KGB.
Lawyer Pavel Sapelka comments on the refusal of the Investigative Committee to cease the prosecution of Ales Mikhalevich:
“According to the Code of Criminal Procedure, preliminary investigation of the criminal case shall be terminated on the grounds specified in the law. The charges should be dropped if there is no evidence of the person’s involvement in the crime and the investigators have exhausted all possibilities for gathering additional evidence.
No doubt, all the circumstances of the criminal case have been investigated, and not only by the law enforcement agencies: the cases of several dozen participants of the events in Independence Square on December 19, 2010 went through open court hearings; the trials examined every aspect of the event, including the evidence collected in the case.
Mikhalevich himself was repeatedly questioned in the case and expressed his attitude to the charges.
Without access to the case file, it is difficult to say exactly how much time was spent on the investigation, as the investigation was suspended after Mikhalevich left Belarus, but the extension of a preliminary investigation for more than 6 months is only possible in exceptional cases, if it is approved by the Prosecutor General and Chairman of the Investigative Committee.
An important fact in assessing the validity of the decision to dismiss a request to close the case is a provision of the CCP, according to which before the suspension of the preliminary investigation the investigator must perform all the investigative actions, which may be carried out in the absence of the accused. This means that the only thing missing in the case for a decision on its termination is a testimony of the accused, while he, by the way, has a right to remain silent.
Therefore, one can joke about Mikhalevich’s returning on state TV channels. The Investigative Committee can preserve a profound silence and give empty replies. One can follow a long-standing tradition of the Investigative Committee to force Mikhalevich sign a pledge of secrecy (however, it is worth remembering the sad experience of the KGB). And you can still remember the constitutional guarantees and rights of citizens enshrined in international agreements, including the right to freedom of movement, which is now without sufficient grounds violated by an unjustified delay in the adoption of a legitimate procedural decision on the termination of criminal prosecution. And the criminal case, apparently, too.”