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"He was just a soldier who was following orders." Trial of Belarusian ex-special forces fighter continues in Switzerland

2023 2023-09-21T13:34:20+0300 2023-09-21T13:34:20+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Yuryi Harauski outside the court in Switzerland, September 19, 2023

On September 19 and 20, the court of the canton of St. Gallen in Switzerland tried the ex-fighter of the Belarusian special quick reaction unit (SOBR), Yuryi Harauski, who in 2019 publicly declared his involvement in the abduction of opposition politicians. The former special forces fighter testified and spoke of the details of the abduction and murder of former Interior Minister Yuryi Zakharanka, former Central Electoral Commission chairman Viktar Hanchar, and businessman Anatol Krasouski. The prosecutor requested three years of imprisonment for him. Harauski's defense lawyer insisted that he "was just a soldier who was following orders." In his last word, the former special forces fighter once again asked for forgiveness from the relatives of the murdered politicians.

At the second session of the trial, the lawyer of Yuryi Harauski spoke first, writes Novy Chas. She declared his complete innocence, while admitting that he participated in the abduction of opposition politicians. The lawyer believes that Harauski cannot be found guilty because "the statute of limitations has expired." According to Harauski's defender, information about the abductions and murders of Zakharanka, Hanchar, and Krasouski was made public by various sources, including European structures, back in 2001.

Harauski's defense lawyer claims that Harauski "was just a soldier who was following orders," and that her defendant did not know about the planned murders and did not intend to kill anyone.

The daughters of the murdered opposition leaders were present in the courtroom: Alena Zakharanka and Valeryia Krasouskaya.

The lawyer adds that, in her opinion, Harauski cannot be deported to Belarus because his life is in danger. The defender also says that Harauski works in Switzerland and that he is not a criminal; that he wants to live in Switzerland in peace and has no contact with his former friends from the special services.

After the break, prosecutor Peter Hangartner took the floor. He repeated what he said on the first day of the trial: he considers Harauski guilty and believes that he has no reason to lie about his participation in the crimes of the Belarusian special services against opposition politicians.

Yuryi Harauski delivered the last word himself.

"Respected court, you will make a decision now. If you make a harsh decision, no one else in the world will report crimes of the authorities. I apologize to the relatives and the loved ones of the victims, and I hope for a fair punishment of the Swiss court."

The verdict is expected next week in writing. There will be no separate hearing for the announcement of the verdict. 

"Paulichenka came up and shot both of them in the back." In Switzerland, there began a trial of an ex-special forces officer in the case of the missing opponents of Lukashenka

On September 19, Switzerland began to try ex-fighter of the Belarusian special quick reaction unit (SOBR) Yuryi Harauski.

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