Updated at 23:19,25-10-2016

District judge in Minsk allows Byalyatski to pay final tribute to father

The chairwoman of Minsk's Pershamayski District Court on Monday afternoon granted the temporary release to imprisoned human rights defender Ales Byalyatski so that he could pay a final tribute to his father who died on December 24.

The wife of the 49-year-old Byalyatski, Natallya Pinchuk, told BelaPAN that that was the third time that the judge had permitted her husband's temporary release.

"I also applied to the interior ministry`s Corrections Department and a prosecutor’s office, asking them to allow Byalyatski to say a final farewell to his dad", said the woman.

Viktar Byalyatski died at the age of 83 three months after being diagnosed with lung cancer. He will be laid to rest in Svetlahorsk, Homyel region, on December 27.

Last week, the family requested the authorities to grant Mr. Byalyatski temporary release to meet with his dying father.

On December 19, the chairwoman of the Pershamayski District Court ordered the temporary release of the rights defender to allow him to visit his father. The judge was given medical papers proving that the activist`s father could be dead within hours.

Mr. Byalyatski's wife delivered the court order to the prison in Zhodzina, Minsk region, where Mr. Byalyatski is currently held, but its administration told her that there were no spare personnel to escort her husband to his father`s place. Prison officials also pointed out flaws in the court papers, noting that corrections should be made in them.

One day later, the interior ministry's Corrections Department denied Mr. Byalyatski permission to visit his father.

The Corrections Department explained that convicts whose sentence has not yet come into force may not be released temporarily for a meeting with a family member.

Mr. Byalyatski, who was sentenced to prison last month, has appealed the ruling, but no appeal hearing has been held so far, which means that his sentence has not yet taken effect.

Judge Syarhey Bandarenka of the Pershamayski District Court in Minsk on November 24 sentenced Mr. Byalyatski, the leader of a human rights group called Vyasna (Spring) and vice president of the International Federation for Human Rights, to four and a half years in prison on a charge of large-scale tax evasion and made a confiscation order against him.

The charge stemmed from information about Mr. Byalyatski's bank accounts abroad, which was provided by authorities in Lithuania and Poland. During his trial, Mr. Byalyatski insisted that the money transferred by various foundations to his bank accounts abroad had been intended to finance Vyasna`s activities and had not been used for personal spending.