9 to 12 Years in Penal Colony: the Prosecution Requests Imprisonment for Viasna Human Rights Defenders

On 9 February Leninski District Court of Minsk held hearings of the criminal case against Nobel laureate and head of Viasna Human Rights Center Ales Bialiatski, his deputy and Vice-President of the International Federation of Human Rights Valiantsin Stefanovich, coordinator of the campaign "Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections" Uladzimir Labkovich and human rights defender Dmitry Solovyov (who is being tried in absentia by special procedure). During the month the witnesses and the human rights activists were questioned at the trial, all 284 volumes of the criminal case were examined. On February, 9 the prosecutor Aliaksandr Karol voiced the requested imprisonment terms (the longest possible — the head of the Viasna).

The state prosecution considers the defenders' guilt under Article 228, Part 4 ("smuggling by an organized group") and Article 342, Part 2 ("financing of group activities grossly violating public order") to be proven beyond doubt. Terms requested are:

Viasna chairman and Nobel Prize winner Ales Bialiatski — 12 years' imprisonment;

Viasna deputy chairman and FIDH vice-president Valentin Stefanovich — 11 years' imprisonment;

Uladzimir Labkovich, coordinator of the campaign "Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections" — 9 years in prison;

Viasna human rights defender Dmitry Solovyov — 10 years in prison (in absentia).

All of them are subject to a reinforced regime and a fine of five thousand basic units (185,000 Belarusian roubles or $73,200).

The last statements of the human rights defenders may be heard on 10th February; the trial will resume on this day at 10:30.
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