Updated at 16:11,02-12-2016

Wife denied meeting with arrested human rights defender Ales Byalyatski

The wife of Ales Byalyatski has been denied a meeting with the arrested human rights defender, associate Valyantsin Stefanovich told BelaPAN .

Natallya Byalyatski had her request for a meeting with the husband rejected by investigators shortly after his arrest. After his case was referred to court, her fresh request for a meeting with Mr. Byalyatski was turned down by Syarhey Bandarenka, the judge of the Pershamayski District Court in Minsk who will preside in the trial.

Mr. Byalyatski has not seen his relatives since his arrest on August 4, according to Mr. Stefanovich.

The activist acknowledged that in Belarus arrested suspects are allowed to meet with relatives before their trials only "on very rare occasions."

The criminal case against the 49-year-old leader of a human rights group called Vyasna (Spring), who is also vice president of the International Federation for Human Rights, was referred to the district court on October 4.

On August 12, he was formally charged with large-scale tax evasion, an offense that carries a penalty of a restricted freedom term of up to five years or a prison term of three to seven years.

The charge stems from information about Mr. Byalyatskis bank accounts abroad, which was provided by authorities in a number of European countries.

Mr. Byalyatskis associates insist that the money in his bank accounts abroad should not be viewed as his personal income, as it was contributed by various foundations and intended to finance Vyasnas activities.