Strangers wearing tracksuits and masks, who for some reason broke into the apartment, turned out to be police officers.
On September 7th, Judge of a Minsk court Volha Malashenka passed sentence upon Vital Kavalenka, who was found guilty of “violence against law enforcement officers” (Article 364 of the Criminal Code of Belarus) and sentenced to three years of restricted freedom in an open-type institution and compensation of 2,000 BYN to “the victim,” reports Human Rights Centre “Viasna.”
According to the prosecution, Kavalenka committed violence against the officer of the rapid response squad of police Uladzislau Suvorau, when he assisted in searching for the apartment of the accused — he hit the fingers of the right hand of the policeman with the front door, which resulted in fractures and scratches on two fingers.
The defendant claims that he did not commit violence against the police officer. According to him, on the morning of April 23, 2021, his wife was leaving the house to take her 8-year-old son to the elevator. He was in the bathroom at that moment and heard his wife shouting, “Vitaly, help!”
Kavalenka says he ran out, saw his son in the hallway and his wife on the wind porch, yelling to close the front door. The man saw unknown men in tracksuits and masks breaking into his apartment — he thought they were bandits or alcoholics.
He and the assailants struggled for the door for a while, then the defendant heard a shout of “Hand! Fingers!” and the door closed easily. After that, they began hitting the door with a heavy object. Only after the second blow, the defendant says, did the assailants yelled “Police!”
The man claims that he had not heard anything but profanity from behind the door before, and the assailants did not have any identification of police officers. He had no intent to injure his attacker’s fingers. When he heard the word “Police!” he opened the door for his attackers and, at their order, lay down on the floor. He was handcuffed, detained, and taken to the police precinct.
“The victim,” in turn, stated that he told the accused and the woman who opened the door that “he was from the police,” but admitted that all the policemen were in plain clothes, wearing masks or balaclavas, and had weapons with them.
He recounted that he “took the woman by the waist and handed her to the officers,” “then I saw the door of another apartment ajar, there was a boy there, he was crying, I sat down to calm him down, told him we were police, everything was okay.” After that, the defendant appeared and tried to close the door.
At the trial, the “witnesses” from the police we wearing balaclavas and were called by their changed names. They described the situation in the same way as the “victim” and noted that the woman’s screaming could have been evidence that “there was something in the apartment as part of the criminal case.”
It was never made clear at the trial why they wanted to search Vital Kavalenka’s apartment. The man had not been previously held criminally or administratively liable.