Belarusian Judge Rules Activist's Trial May Proceed Despite Health Concerns

2012 2012-02-21T17:01:05+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en

VITSEBSK, Belarus -- A judge in the eastern Belarusian city of Vitsebsk has ruled that Syarhey Kavalenka's health is "satisfactory" and that the trial of the opposition activist can proceed.

As the trial got under way on February 21, relatives said they were shocked over Kavalenka's frail appearance due to a hunger strike.

Kavalenka, who was arrested in December on charges of violating his parole conditions, was forcibly fed by prison guards in January but says he resumed his hunger strike 15 days ago.

Kavalenka, a member of the Belarusian Conservative Christian Party-Belarusian Popular Front, was originally sentenced in January 2010 to three years of "limited freedom" for "illegally displaying the banned Belarusian national flag" in a public place.

He could be sentenced to three years in jail if found guilty of violating his parole.

In a related development, four activists of the opposition Youth Front movement who traveled to Vitsebsk to support Kavalenka were arrested on February 21 and charged with "using vulgar words in public."