HRDs demand retrials and release of 3 more political prisoners

2021 2021-04-20T18:28:57+0300 2021-04-20T18:28:59+0300 en https://spring96.org/files/images/sources/pavedajla_sud.jpg The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Joint statement of the Belarusian human rights community

Minsk – April 20, 2021

On March 31, 2021, Kiryl Kazei and Yury Siarhei were found guilty by the Zavodski District Court of Minsk of committing crimes under Part 1 of Art. 13, Part 2 of Art. 339 and Part 3 of Art. 295 of the Criminal Code and sentenced to 7 and 6 years in prison, respectively, and a fine of 4,350 rubles.

Based on the monitoring of the court hearings, we found that:

  • the selection of pre-trial detention was groundless; it was preceded by gross procedural irregularities, as a result of which the defendants were placed in pre-trial detention only on the 17th day after their actual detention;
  • the defendants’ right to be brought before a judge and the right to have their case tried in court were violated, which prevented the court from promptly ruling on the lawfulness of their detention and ordering their release if the detention was found illegal;
  • the defendants were kept in a cage, which is a violation of the standard of presumption of innocence;
  • Kiryl Kazei was forced to admit guilt and incriminate himself under torture;
  • the defense was put on an unequal position with the prosecution.

Thus, the convicts were imprisoned in violation of the right to a fair trial, other rights and freedoms guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

At the same time, the violent (in the broadest sense of the word, which includes non-symbolic damage to property) intentions of the defendants were not proved in accordance with the law, while evidence with signs of forgery was used to conclude guilt.

On February 4, 2021, Aliaksei Paviadaila was found guilty by the Baranavičy District Court of committing a crime under Part 1 of Art. 295-3 of the Criminal Code, and sentenced to two years in prison.

Based on the monitoring of the court hearings, we found that:

  • for political reasons, the defendant, who was suspected of involvement in protest activities, was prosecuted in the absence of the crime;
  • the defendant was sentenced to the maximum punishment provided by Article 295-3 of the Criminal Code in the absence of aggravating circumstances, which emphasizes the prejudice of the court and the accusatory bias in sentencing.

Given all these circumstances and in accordance with the Guidelines on the Definition of Political Prisoners (para. 3.2 a and 3.2 b), we, representatives of the Belarusian human rights community, consider the persecution of Kiryl Kazei, Yury Siarhei and Aliaksei Paviadaila as politically motivated. The convicts are therefore political prisoners.

We call on the Belarusian authorities to:

  • immediately review the court verdicts against Kiryl Kazei, Yury Siarhei and Aliaksei Paviadaila, release them from custody and select other measures to ensure their appearance in court;
  • release all political prisoners and stop political repression in the country.

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