The judge in the tax evasion trial of human rights defender Ales Byalyatski postponed the hearing until Wednesday after it resumed in Minsk on November 22.
The court session lasted some 15 minutes on Tuesday morning.
It began with the questioning of Mr. Byalyatski, who once again said that he did not admit guilt and had nothing to add to his previous statements made in court.
After that, Judge Syarhey Bandarenka granted a motion by the activist’s lawyer, Dzmitry Layewski, to add to the case file the Norwegian Helsinki Committee`s letters, reading that the money transferred by the Committee to Mr. Byalyatski’s accounts abroad had been intended for the activities of the Minsk-based Vyasna human rights organization that he chairs.
The judge also granted Mr. Layewski’s motion to add to the case file the justice ministry`s report on several unsuccessful attempts made by Vyasna to restore its legal status and a copy of the defendant’s 2009 income statement.
The lawyer asked the judge to postpone the hearing until Wednesday to give him time to prepare for an oral argument. The prosecutor backed the request and the judge granted it.
The 49-year-old Byalyatski, who is also vice president of the International Federation for Human Rights, has been held in a detention center in Minsk since August 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. Byalyatski’s bank accounts abroad, which was provided by authorities in Lithuania and Poland.
Mr. Byalyatski’s 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 Vyasna’s activities.
A number of foreign human rights activists had planned to attend the trial but the Belarusian authorities denied entry visas to them.