Belarusian Intellectuals Ask Prosecutor to Stop Criminal Prosecution of Mechyslau Iaskevich
On 7 February civil society activists on sent an open letter to Prosecutor General Piatro Miklashevich, urging him to stop the criminal prosecution of Mechyslau Iaskevich, an activist of the Polish community in Belarus.
The trial of Mr. Iaskevich is scheduled to take place in Hrodna`s Kastrychnitski borough court on 9 February.
On 23 January a judge of the Court postponed the trial to 30 January after some witnesses failed to show up. The trial did not start on 30 January either because the judge was said to be ill.
’We’re deeply convinced that this criminal case is politically motivated and is a continuation of a series of provocations that have been organized by law enforcement agencies against the democratically elected leadership of the UBP [Union of Belarusian Poles] for two years now,’ the letter reads. ‘Mechyslau Iaskevich’s decency and adherence to principles are proved by his 20-year-long activities in the field of Polish revival in Belarus and are beyond all doubt. We don’t believe that Iaskevich could have committed a crime.’
The letter bears the signatures of journalists Andrei Dynko and Mikalai Markevich, human rights defenders Liudmila Hraznova, Tatsiana Protska and Ales Bialiatski, writer Uladzimir Arlou, philosopher Valiantsin Akudovich, rock musician Liavon Volski, and filmmaker Iury Khashchavatski.
’By publishing this letter, we put our hopes on public opinion rather than the prosecutor general,’ Mr. Markevich told BelaPAN. ‘We’ll also make some steps so that this letter will be attached to the case and the judge will know whom she tries and on what charge.’
Mr. Iaskevich, a close ally of Anzhalika Borys who is regarded by the Polish government as the legitimate leader of the UBP, faces a disorderly conduct charge under Article 339 of the Criminal Code. He was arrested by police at a trolleybus stop in Hrodna on 5 November 2006 for allegedly having caused an affray. He was released two days later and ordered to appear on summons for questioning as a suspect.
If found guilty as charged, Mr. Iaskevich may face community service, a fine or a prison term of up to two years.