3 and 2.5 years: Prosecution demands prison terms for Homiel human rights activists

Leanid Sudalenka, Tatsyana Lasitsa, Maryia Tarasenka. Photo: Spring96.org

Human rights defenders and HRC Viasna members Leanid Sudalenka, Tatsyana Lasitsa, Maryia Tarasenka continued to be tried in Homiel.

They were charged with ‘organisation and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order’ (Article 342-1 of the Criminal Code) and ‘training persons to participate in such actions, as well as their financing” (Article 342-2).

In total, about 200 people were interrogated in the trial. 61 people testified in court – mostly clients who contacted the human rights activist seeking legal assistance.

“According to Sudalenka, the case file features such absurd accusations as buying firewood to a family whose father was convicted of ‘rioting’; appearing in a video on YouTube to explain the essence of peaceful assembly, a post on social media calling to meet a protester after term in a detention center, arranging a seminar on digital security for human rights defenders, and payment of fines, court fees and the services of lawyers,” human rights centre Viasna reports.

Prosecutors Yauhen Fartushnyak and Kiryl Vyshnyakou demand that Leanid Sudalenka and Tatsyana Lasitsa be sentenced to three years in prison each, Maryia Tarasenka – to 2.5 years in prison.

It is known that the verdict will be announced by judge Syarhei Salouski in the coming days.

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In early January, a nine-hour raid was carried out by Organised Crime Combating Department officers on human rights defenders’ office Homielskaya Vyasna. Computers, data storage devices, white-red-white flags and documents were seized. After the search, the officers took Sudalenka, Chairman of the Homieĺ branch of the human rights centre Viasna, for a ‘conversation’, but on that day, he was released.

On January 18, the local police arrested Leanid Sudalenka as well as volunteers Tatsyana Lasitsa and Maryia Tarasenka. They were taken into custody (later, Tarasenka was released on her own recognizance, but placed under house arrest).

“Leanid Sudalenka is a well-known human rights activist who has been defending human rights for 20 years, providing free legal assistance, including in preparing individual complaints to the UN Human Rights Committee on behalf of Belarusian nationals whose rights were violated by the government,” his colleagues say.

The trial kicked off on September, 3. The defendants were recognised as political prisoners.

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