Ales Bialiatski trial : oral arguments

Today, November 23, the judge Siarhei Bandarenka reopened the trial of Ales Bialiatski at Minsk Maskouski District Court. The session started with oral arguments.

In his address to the court, public prosecutor Uladzimir Saikouski said the evidence examined during the judicial investigation was sufficient to find Ales Bialiatski guilty : “The validity of the financial papers is beyond doubts. It is not crucial that they do not have seals and signatures on them”.

Referring to the Tax Code, the prosecutor argued that all incomes from abroad were liable to taxation. According to him, Ales Bialiatski’s case is no exception. He is extremely critical when speaking of Bialiatski’s claims on the money as meant for human rights activities.

The prosecutor demanded to imprison Ales Bialiatski for 5 years in a top-security colony and to confiscate his property.

In his speach the defense lawyer said that during the hearing it was not mentioned where the figures of the resources received by Bialiatski came from. Besides, there were no proofs of a deliberate tax evasion. The investigation clearly established that he had two accounts abroad and that certain money was transferred to them. All the rest is not proven, but is merely assumed by the investigation. The fact of resources being transferred from foreign accounts to Belarus has not been proven.

The defense lawyer stressed that a number of orders by Minsk prosecuting authorities concerning the case failed to be executed. “The presentation of the case as it is, with copies of bank accounts that failed to be translated from foreign languages, is evidence of the impartiality of the tax inspections of Bialiatski’s assets”, said the lawyer. The investigation deliberately ignored the defense’s request and failed to address the international organizations that had transferred the money in order to inquire on the objectives of the resources and whether they were satisfied with their use, as these papers would completely justify Bialiatski.

The laywer emphasized that the inquiry to the Lithuanian and Polish banks was sent before the initiation of the criminal case, which violated the provisions of the Legal Protection Act and contributed to the illegal reception of evidence. Therefore, the information cannot be viewed as evidence.

The laywer also added that part of the case files were anonymous appeals, which contradicts the Code of Criminal Procedures.

After the statement of Ales Bialiatski, today’s court session was over. The verdict will be pronounced at 11 a.m. 24 November.   

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