A judge from Bialystok court has received a special permit from the Polish Minister of Justice to go to Belarus in order to interrogate witnesses in case against a Belarusian businessman, Andrei Zukaviets, who is accused of money fraud.
The investigation against Mr. Zukaviets has been dragging on for 10 years now. The main obstacles slowing down the trial was lack of opportunity to interrogate witnesses who cannot come to Poland. The defendant suggested to question only those witnesses who can come to a court in Bialystok, but the court dismissed the motion. Instead, Polish Ministry of Justice decided to send a judge to Belarus.
The Polish judge is supposed to be granted an opportunity to interrogate witnesses freely. But Mr. Zukaviets says that those to be interrogated had been subjected to the pressure from the regime. He told Belsat that they received phone calls from KGB and were summoned for conversations on the upcoming visit of the Polish judge. Zukaviets provided even transcripts of the talks between the KGB and the witnesses, but the court dismissed them as unimportant. „I am sure the witnesses will say what KGB told them to say“ – Mr. Zukaviets told Belsat.
Andrei Zukaviets is accused of obtaining 700 000 dollars credit under false pretences from two Belarusian banks 10 years ago. He is known for his ties to the democratic opposition. He escaped Belarus, came to Poland and was detained by the Polish police. He is facing up to 10 years in prison and extradition to Belarus. So far, the Polish court decided that he could not count on a fair trial in Belarus due to his support for the Belarusian opposition groups in the past and decided to try him in Poland instead.