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16.12.2006

Lawyers from the Fund for Legal Aid to Victims of Torture halt the extradition of a Belarusian national

   

Until August 2004 N. lived in Minsk where he had a business. He left Belarus at that time due to serious pressure he had begun experiencing from the authorities over his involvement in the opposition movement. In December his family joined him in Kyiv.

On 30 November 2006 at around 19.00 N. was stopped by police officers in Kyiv. They said that there were some problems with a car and asked him to go with them to the Pechersky District Police Station.

Then when already in the police station he was informed that he had been detained at the request of the law enforcement agencies of Belarus and the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs in connection with the fact that in Belarus he was accused of having “run business activities without registration as a legal entity”. He was shown the ruling on declaring him a suspect. No other documents were presented. On the same day he was placed in a temporary holding centre.

On 1 December 2006 N. was remanded in custody for 40 days pending an application for his extradition. From the ruling of the Pechersky District Court, it would seem that the criminal investigation bodies in Belarus took the decision in October 2005 to remand N. and placed him on the wanted list.

On 4 December 2006 N.’s lawyer appealed the ruling in the Kyiv Appeal Court however on 8 December the latter appealed the original ruling by the Pechersky District Court. 

At the present time N. is being held in SIZO [a remand centre].

On 4 December lawyers from the Fund for Legal Aid to Victims of Torture lodged an application with the European Court of Human Rights to apply temporary measures and on 8 December the European Court acceded to this application and sent the relevant letter to the Government of Ukraine. On 11 December a claim was submitted to the European Court in which N. asserts that Ukraine will be violating Articles 3 and 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights [the prohibition against torture, and the right to a fair trial – translator] if it hands him over to Belarus. He claims that the criminal case is politically motivated and refers to the widespread practice of extracting “confessions” from suspects through the use of torture and other forms of inhuman treatment. He also asserts that due to the legal system and practice in Belarus he cannot hope for a fair court hearing. N. also alleges that there was a violation of Article 5 [the right to liberty and security] of the Convention during the detention.

It should be noted that N.’s case is being run by the investigator Branchel who is known for his participation in the case involving Mikhail Leonov, the Director of the Minisk Tractor Factor, the set-up nature of which has been pointed out by many sources, the case of the disappearance of the camera man Dmitry Zavadsky which has never been brought to a conclusion, as well as many other cases. He is also on the “black list” of the Belarusian opposition as one of the stalwarts of Lukashenko’s regime.

This is the second case involving the possible deportation of Belarusian nationals from Ukraine which the Fund for Legal Aid to Victims of Torture has been involved in.

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