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Trial against Viasna leadership: Day 3

2023 2023-01-10T19:59:17+0300 2023-01-16T21:27:32+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

The trial over Viasna leadership continues in the Lieninski District court of Minsk. Among the defendants is Nobel Peace Prize 2022 laureate Ales Bialiatski. On January 10, the third court session was held. 

Viasna members go on trial

Four human rights defenders are being tried: the Viasna chairman and Nobel Peace prize laureate Ales Bialiatski, his deputy Valiantsin Stefanovic, and the Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections campaign coordinator Uladzimir Labkovich are in the dock while Zmitser Salauyou, who had to leave Belarus, will be tried in absentia. They are charged with “smuggling by an organized group” under Part 4 Article 228 of the Criminal Code and “financing of group actions grossly violating the public order” under Part 2 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code.

The court proceeds with questioning the witnesses.

At the beginning of the trial, Uladzimir Labkovich petitioned for a break in the trial because he felt unwell and had a fever shortly before the session. Judge Zapasnik consulted with pre-trial detention center officers and decided that Labkovich was able to participate in the trial. The pre-trial detention center reported that as of Tuesday morning, Labkovich's health had been satisfactory, and he could participate in the meeting. The court session continued.

Владимир Лабкович на суде 5 января
In his letters from jail, Uladzimir Labkovich has complained about the deterioration of his health in detention.

After the lunch break, Labkovich complained again that he was not feeling well. He demanded to call an ambulance. Doctors examined the political prisoner and said that he could participate in the court session.

In his letters from pre-trial detention center, Uladzimir Labkovich has complained about deteriorating health, namely constant headaches, insomnia, and decreased vision.

Human rights defenders of Viasna continue to be kept in the courtroom handcuffed and caged. Valiantsin Stefanovic reiterated the demand to take off the handcuffs. As before, the judge did not consider this motion. She argued that this issue is within the competence of the guards.

In response to the decision of the judge, Valiantsin Stefanovic challenged the court because it violated their rights. As expected, this request was rejected as well.

An anecdotal conversation occurred today between Ales Bialiatski and prosecutor Aliaksandr Karol. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate suggested swapping writing utensils because the prosecutor and the defendant are in unequal conditions: the latter has a laptop and a pen for his disposal while the human rights defender only has a ballpoint pen refill.

Алесь Беляцкий на суде
Ales Bialitski is taking notes with a bare ballpoint pen refill in the courtroom.

The trial will continue on January 11.

Trial against Viasna leadership: Day 1

Ales Bialiatski, Uladzimir Labkovich, and Valiantsin Stefanovic filed motions to conduct the trial in the Belarusian language and to remove the handcuffs, as they degrade their dignity. The first petition was not granted by the judge, and the second was not even considered. Rights advocates continue to communicate in the Belarusian language in the courtroom.

Trial against Viasna leadership: Day 2

Zmitser Salauyou, who is being tried in absentia, said he knew neither the name nor even the gender of the court-appointed lawyer who shall represent him at court. The trial now proceeds with the questioning of witnesses. There are about 100 of them in the case.


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