Updated at 14:52,24-02-2021

Byalyatski's trial to resume on November 10


The tax evasion trial of prominent rights defender Ales Byalyatski will resume in Minsk on November 10.

At Friday's court session, Mr. Byalyatski's lawyer, Dzmitry Layewski, asked the judge to send the case back to the Financial Investigations Department of the State Control Committee, saying that investigators had failed to establish the purposes for which money in Mr. Byalyatski's accounts held in Lithuania and Poland had been spent.

The lawyer also dismissed as invalid printouts of Mr. Byalyatski's account statements provided by the Lithuanian and Polish banks.

He said that a request for his client`s bank account details sent by the Financial Investigations Department to Lithuania and Poland in January 2011 did not fall within Belarus’ legal assistance agreements with the countries.

The printouts sent by the banks cannot be considered to be certified copies, as they lack signatures and stamps, Mr. Layewski said.

They do not constitute evidence, and the judge should not take them into consideration, he stressed.

Mr. Byalyatski said that the sole purpose of the case was to punish him for his human rights activities. He mentioned letters read out in court earlier in which the KGB had suggested instituted criminal proceedings against him.

After the prosecutor said that he would be able to produce only on November 10 copies of customs declaration forms filled in by Mr. Byalyatski at the Belarusian border, the judge ruled the trial to be suspended until the date.

The charge against Mr. Byalyatski stems from information about his 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.

In a statement earlier this month, Lithuanian Justice Minister Remigijus Simasius said that the disclosed bank account details could not be used as evidence in the trial. "We notified the Belarusian authorities a couple of months ago that we were annulling the information provided by the Lithuanian justice ministry [to Minsk] on the basis of a legal assistance agreement and that this information may not be used as formal legal proof in court," he said.