Trial against Ales Bialatski is to be delayed until November 16th. The prosecution also announced preparing a new indictment, much different from the current one.
During today’s court hearing, the prosecutor tried to prove that data on Bialiatski’s foreign accounts obtained from Polish and Lithuanian authorities are reliable. He also asked to attach to the case file a document on ending the legal cooperation between Belarus and both Poland and Lithuania. In response, the defense presented a letter from the Lithuanian Ministry of Justice arguing that the data on bank accounts is not valid.
The court also agreed to have the defendant attach letters from few different international organizations which transferred money to Bialiatski’s account. All those letters were to confirm that the money were used for human rights advocacy. All the funds were accounted, so they should not be treated as an income.
Paval Sapielka, a human rights lawyer who had his license revoked for defending dissidents, suggested that the prosecutor might change the charge – from hiding income and tax evasion to acting through an unregistered organization. The charge has less severe punishment – two years in prison, while large-scale tax evasion can be punishable with a maximum of eight years of prison and a property loss. Sapielka told Belsat that prosecution is acting to increase sense of insecurity.
The trial begun on November 2nd in Minsk. Bialiatski is accused of large-scale tax evasion and the evidence against him are bank statements obtained from Polish and Lithuanian authorities.