Forged minutes: Human rights defender behind bars


Andrey Bandarenka, head of human rights organisation Platform Innovation, has been sentenced to five days of arrest for participating in an action of public mourning of Ihar Ptsichkin, who died under unascertained circumstances in a detention centre in Minsk.

On November, 14 a judge of Maskouski district court sent a protocol against Mr Bandarenka back to the police for rework, but after the hearing the human rights defender was arrested. It is noticeable that a new protocol was drawn up right in the courthouse.

On September 14, 2013 eighteen people including Mr Bandarenka were caught by police as they were heading for the detention center in Valadarski Street where Mr Ptsichkin died a suspicious death in August, 2013. The relatives and friends only intended to observe a minute’s silence in tribute to his memory and leave flowers and lit candles outside the jail but police detained the participants and journalists covering the action.

Mr Ptsichkin’s 8-month-pregnant sister, Iryna Miranovich, was also among those arrested. She was charged with a civil offense but was released later that day. Five detainees were held in custody for a few days and then sentenced to fines.

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Two years ago Mr Ptsichkin was put under five-year driving ban. Nevertheless, he could not resist taking to the wheel; as a result, he was sentenced to three months of arrest. Having admitted his guilt in court, Ihar Ptsichkin came to Zavadzki district Directorate of Interior. Then he was transferred to predetention centre No 1: he was to serve his term there. Four days later prison officials phoned his mother and told her that Ihar was dead.

A jail officer told the family that the arrestee had died of a heart attack, but the relatives are certain that he was beaten to death. In posthumous photographs posted on the website of Platform Innovation, extensive bruises can be clearly seen on Mr Ptsichkin’s forearms, wrists and ribs and so can wounds under his knee.

At a police station Ihar Ptsichkin managed to make a video with his mobile phone disclosing policemen threatening him with tortures for his attempt to come to the defence of another detainee. What did happen in Minsk predetention centre No 1 where Ihar died? His relatives are still looking for answers. Iryna Miranovich alleges as a fact that her brother was killed by police officers.

www.belsat.eu/en

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