September 21, 2012
The Supreme Court has dismissed a supervisory appeal against a sentence to Viasna leader Ales Bialiatski pronounced by the Court of Pershamaiski District of Minsk on November 24, 2011, says Valiantsin Stefanovich, deputy chairman of the Human Rights Center “Viasna”, quoting a letter received from the prisoner.
“The convict’s arguments on the alleged illegality and groundlessness of the pronounced court rulings failed to be confirmed during the examination of the case file,” says the Supreme Court’s decision signed by its deputy chairman Valery Kalinkovich.
“The Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus, just like all the previous judicial bodies, failed to take measures to fully and comprehensively examine Ales Bialiatski’s appeal against the verdict of Pershamaiski District Court that found him guilty of committing an offence under Par. 2 Art. 243 of the Criminal Code (“large scale tax evasion”). None of the courts addressed the issue as to which obligations were undertaken by the human rights defender arising from his agreements with a number of foundations that transferred financial resources to accounts opened in his name in Poland and Lithuania. This was the argument referred to in the verdict handed down on Ales Bialiatski by the Court of Pershamaiski District. However, during the trial Ales Bialiatski argued that it was in connection with the agreements between the Human Rights Center “Viasna” and the foreign foundations that he had passed financial resources to third persons, which, in accordance with the Tax Code of the Republic of Belarus, are not liable to taxation. Neither the court nor the investigators addressed the foreign foundations with a request as to the status of the financial resources received, but recognized them as Ales Bialiatski’s personal income, without any grounds and evidence. Deputy chairman of the Supreme Court Valery Kalinkovich also evaded providing answers to the question, why the court imposed on Ales Bialiatski both a compensation for the alleged damage inflicted by the offence and a fine for its late payment, which runs counter to the provisions of the Tax Code. All these circumstances once again emphasized the political character of Ales Bialiatski’s judicial harassment by the Belarusian regime, the harassment solely aimed at sanctioning his human rights activities,” says Valiantsin Stefanovich.