Tsikhanouskaya and Latushka sentenced to long prison terms in absentia
On March 6, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Pavel Latushka, Volha Kavalkova, Maryia Maroz, and Siarhei Dyleuski were convicted in absentia at the Minsk Municipal Court. The verdict of Judge Piotr Arlou is 15 years of imprisonment for Tsikhanouskaya, 18 years for Latushka, and 12 years for Kavalkova, Maroz, and Dyleuski. Prosecutor Mikhail Kavaliou represented the state prosecution.
The defendants were charged with 12 articles of the Criminal Code in total. The first court hearing was held on June 17.
The Investigative Committee initiated special criminal proceedings against the defendants who are outside Belarus on October 20, 2022. On November 30, the case was transferred to the Prosecutor General for referral to court.
On January 11, 2023, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya made a request to the Minsk Municipal Court to be granted access to the materials of her case. She also informed the court that she would use her right to a lawyer. Tsikhanouskaya also wrote to Minsk City Bar Association and Belarusian Republican Bar Association that she wanted to contact her assigned lawyer and work out the position of the defense.
The democratic leader emphasized that she considers the procedure of court proceedings in absentia to be a violation of basic human rights and freedoms.
Pavel Latushka refused the lawyer assigned to him. The Investigative Committee is trying to create the appearance of legitimacy, but it is not succeeding, Latushka argued. He also demanded to receive a copy of the order on the institution of criminal proceedings or recognition as a suspect, but he did not receive any relevant documents in response.
Special proceedings are criminal proceedings against persons who are outside Belarus and who fail to appear before a body conducting criminal proceedings.