First conviction handed down in Belarusian court for wanting to join Ukraine's armed units
The Brest Regional Court held the first trial on charges of ‘attempted participation in hostilities on the territory of a foreign state’ under Part 1 of Article 14 and Part 1 of Article 361-3 of the Criminal Code. The defendant is a 37-year-old resident of Brest, Siarhei Vaitsiuk. He became the first person in Belarus who was convicted for wanting to volunteer to fight in Ukraine after the Russian invasion on February 24, 2022. On July 28, 2022, Judge Sviatlana Kramianiouskaya sentenced him to 2.5 years in a general-security penal colony—just as requested by the prosecutor Aliaksandr Bohush.
According to the indictment, Vaitsiuk “in April 2022 found out through various Internet resources the procedure and possible ways of enlisting in the armed units of Ukraine and contacted their representatives. To implement his plan, ... in mid-April he tried to cross the border in the direction of Ukraine, including outside of the established checkpoints, but did not carry out his intention to the end, as he was detained by law enforcers”.
First, he was sentenced to 10 days of administrative imprisonment for ‘disorderly conduct’ and ‘dissemination of extremist materials’ under Articles 19.1 and 19.11 of the Administrative Code respectively. Yet on April 24, the man was taken into custody on suspicion of ‘mercenarism’ under Article 133 of the Criminal Code. The charge was later reclassified to a slightly milder one, namely ‘attempted participation in hostilities on the territory of a foreign state’ under Part 1 of Article 14 and Part 1 of Article 361-3 of the Criminal Code. Since then, Siarhei has been held in custody.
The trial began on July 25 in the Brest Regional Court. Judge Sviatlana Kramianiouskaya considered the case. Prosecutor Aliaksandr Bohush represented the state prosecution.
Prosecutor Bohush said during the debates that he found the guilt of Siarhei Vaitsiuk fully proven and asked the court to sentence the man to 2.5 years of imprisonment. The accused pleaded guilty and showed remorse. As a result, Judge Kramianiouskaya imposed the punishment requested by the prosecutor.