Head of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" Ales Byalyatski on November 24 was sentenced by Piershamaiski District Court of Minsk to 4.5 years of imprisonment to be served in maximum security colony with confiscation of property.
Judge Sergei Bondarenko approved the guilt of the human rights defender under Part 2 of Art. 243 of the Criminal Code (concealment of incomes on a large scale). This article provides for up to seven years of imprisonment with confiscation of property as maximum penalty. By decision of the court, Byalyatski must pay 721 million of losses and 36 million of state tax.
According to the judge, "the court finds as the only possible the imprisonment with confiscation and can not find the possibility of more lenient punishment", Radio Liberty reports. Property of the defendant, including registered to other persons, were decided to be confiscated.
The verdict was completely read to Byalyatski at the request of human rights defender. The conclusive part was translated into Belarusian.
The announcement of verdict was attended by heads of diplomatic missions of Lithuania, the Czech Republic, USA, Germany, Hungary, France, by human rights activists from Belarus, Russia and France. Seats in the courtroom were not enough for everyone. The audience met the verdict with shouts: "Shame!"
In his final statement on November 23 Ales Byalyatski said he didn't plead guilty, and the case had political subtext.
"If they (KGB and other state services - udf.by) see us as a source of funds for the opposition, this is a fault and unprofessional. I don't believe it. KGB knows what we are doing in Belarus and consciously, purposefully works against human rights defenders, using any methods", the chairman of "Viasna" noted.
We remind, on November 23 the prosecutor asked the court to sentence Ales Byalyatski, accused of tax evasion, to 5 years of imprisonment to be served in maximum security colony with confiscation of property. He asked to exact from the human rights defender the full amount of damage caused to the state. The trial of Byalyatski began on November 2. Judge - Sergei Bondarenko. Prosecutor - Vladimir Saykovsky. Lawyer - Dmitry Laevsky.