Bialynichy procuracy pays interests to activities of Amnesty International expert

2011 2011-12-07T18:00:13+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Six years ago a terrible family murder was committed in the village of Vialikaya Mashchanitsa. Six people were killed, including two small children. A day later five villagers, aged 18-24, were detained. Soon they were charged with the murder. The investigation lasted for almost 1.5 years. The trial at the Mahiliou Region Court was conducted by Judge Mikhail Melnikau for 11 months. The prosecutor demanded death sentence to two of the accused, and life sentence – to the rest. However, on 2 November 2007 the panel of judges of the Mahiliou Region Court justified all defendants because of the lack of evidence. One of them was released in the court hall, while the remaining four were sentenced to different terms of imprisonment (4-10 years) for other crimes.

In 2008, Heather McGill, an expert of Amnesty International, paid a visit to the village to meet with the former suspects and their relatives. The meeting was organized with the assistance of journalist Barys Vyrvich.

Recently Mr. Vyrvich has paid a visit to the village in order to write an article, because two death executions are pending in Belarus in connection with the blast in Minsk metro on 11 April 2011. However, when he spoke to villagers, he saw that they were afraid of something. Eventually, the mother of one of the former suspects told him that this summer the Bialynichy District Procuracy summonsed those of the former suspects and their relatives who had met with Heather McGill in 2008. The formal reason was the article “Mashchanitsy case: how innocent people barely escaped execution”, published in the private newspaper “Narodnaya Volia”.

Officers of the procuracy behaved rudely and demanded from the people to tell all details of the meeting with the AI expert. When the woman asked what criminal was there in the meeting with the human rights defender, an officer of the procuracy started threatening her and shaking some papers before her face. The summonsed were also warned against telling anyone about the “talk” at the procuracy.

Barys Vyrvich is surprised that the procuracy officers expressed no wish to talk with him. He also thinks that in this case the procuracy acted on order of another state body, and that these actions are connected to the increasing pressurization of human rights defenders in Belarus.