Minsk City Court upholds verdict against Ales Bialiatski
The Minsk City Court has upheld the conviction and four and a half year term of imprisonment against Ales Bialiatski, Head of the Viasna Human Rights Centre and Vice-Director of the International Federation for Human Rights. The cassation appeal had been brought by Ales Bialiatski’s lawyer, Dmitry Layevsky against the conviction over tax evasion passed on 24 November 2011.
The appeal was rejected even though his supporters have paid the fine portion of his penalty for tax evasion.
49-year-old Ales Bialiatski was convicted in connection with accounts opened and used to transfer money from abroad to Belarus to help victims of political repression, since Viasna was officially dissolved by the Belarusian regime in 2003.
There was outrage and consternation when it was discovered that both the Lithuanian Justice Ministry and the Polish Prosecutor General’s Office gave information about accounts to the Belarusian authorities
Bialiatski’s defence argued that the prosecution had not provided proof that Ales Bialiatski had committed any crime. Even in the documents presented it was written that the recipient of the money was the Viasna Human Riaghts Centre. That meant that this was not Bialiatski’s money and he had not been obliged to pay tax on it.
The prosecution and sentence of a widely respected human rights defender has been condemned throughout the world.
On 13 December leading Belarusian human rights organizations named Ales Bialiatski Human Rights Defender of the Year.
From Viasna reports (http://spring96.org/ru )