Updated at 18:18,16-07-2018

One of three suspects in Awtukhovich case released


Yury Lyavonaw, one of the three suspects in the high-profile Awtukhovich case, was unexpectedly released Saturday from a pre-trial detention center in Minsk where he had been held since he was arrested, along with Mikalay Awtukhovich and Uladzimir Asipenka, in their home city of Vawkavysk in February 2009.

Mr. Lyavonaw arrived home at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, his daughter, Yuliya, told BelaPAN.

"Dad wont comment on anything now; perhaps, he will meet with reporters next week," she said on Sunday.

"His health condition is good. In this regard, everything is all right," she noted.

Messrs. Awtukhovich, Lyavonaw and Asipenka were apprehended in armed raids on February 8 by members of Almaz, the interior ministrys elite counter-terrorist unit, under a warrant from the Hrodna regional prosecutor. Police said that they were suspected of perpetrating a series of arsons and explosions targeting the property of local officials and of illegal possession of explosives and firearms.

On February 18, they were formally charged with "deliberate destruction of or damage to property caused in a way dangerous to the public or the intentional infliction of large-scale damage."

Opposition politicians and human rights activists view the criminal prosecution of the three men as politically motivated.
When reached by BelaPAN, Mr. Lyavonaws lawyer said that he had learnt about the release of his client from the daughter, Yuliya.

The lawyer, Vadzim Mushynski, suggested that Mr. Lyavonaw had been released on his written pledge not to leave his home

The period of Mr. Lyavonaws detention expired on August 8, Mr. Mushynski said. Upon the expiry, the suspect should be released or an application for a warrant of his further detention should be filed, he noted.

"I earlier submitted a request to a deputy prosecutor general, asking him to consider releasing Mr. Lyavonaw on his own recognizance," the lawyer said."It appears that the request has been granted."

Mr. Mushynski said that it was likely that his client had been ordered to pledge not to disclose details of the investigation. "All lawyers made this pledge and, perhaps, Mr. Lyavonaw was ordered to make it as well," he said. "But I am not one hundred percent sure; I havent yet met with him."

In a press statement released in mid-July, the interior ministry said that in January 2009, the organized crime prevention department obtained information suggesting Mr. Awtukhovichs involvement in arsons to property of Syarhey Katsuba, a former chief of the Vawkavysk district police department, and Syarhey Mandzik, a former tax officer in the district, which were committed in the summer and fall of 2005.

Apart from this, the ministry claimed that Mr. Awtukhovich "organized preparations for the physical elimination of the chairman of the Hrodna Regional Executive Committee, Uladzimir Sawchanka, for the purposes of influencing decisions made by governmental agencies, as well as in an act of revenge."

"In addition, it was established that in the summer and fall of 2005, Mikalay Awtukhovich, together with other persons, made preparations for an attempt on the life of the deputy tax minister of the Republic of Belarus, Vasil Kamyanko, as an act of revenge on the statesman for his official activities, the statement said.

Mr. Awtukhovich allegedly planned to use a grenade launcher and a homemade explosive device that were found in the case of a certain Alyaksandr Laryn, who the press office said was "known for his past training in handling weapons and explosives."

Mikalay Awtukhovich and Yury Lyavonaw, former business partners, earlier served 18 months in prison for alleged tax evasion and illegal business activities. They were both granted an early release in January 2008.