7 years in jail for souvenir cartridge? French citizen on trial in Belarus (ENG video)

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Will Belarus be in the eyes of the French the country of thorough law enforcement or also the country with sane reputation. A lot depends on the trial of Jolan Viaud in the Homiel regional court. So far, the souvenir bullet that the Frenchman presented on his own accord to the customs official at the border has hit the image of Belarus.

The court room of the Homiel regional court could not accomodate all the people who came to the trial of the French citizen Jolan Viaud who was detained on 21 September over a single bullet in his backpack. After the five-hour hearing, the trial was put off till Friday, and the main result of the day was the decision of the judge Tamara Zastaunetskaya to reject the motion to change the preventive measure for the defendant.

“Having studied the nature of the case, the court has found the petition not subject to satisfaction on account of Part 2 of Art 295 and Part 1 of Art 333-1 of the Criminal Code – grave and especially grave crimes, deprivation of liberty may be applied only on the basis of the gravity of the crime,” said the judge Tamara Zastaunetskaya.

Even witnesses questioned the grave nature of the crime committed by Viaud.

Andrey Krytski, the customs officer who looked after Viaud on that day, admitted that the Frenchman himself showed him the cartridge, noting that it was a souvenir. Krytski added that the defendant had no intention of hiding it, and from the human point of view, no violation occurred. However, from the point of view of the law, Viaud is facing up to seven years in prison.

“The law has an article providing for the punishment below the lowest sanction, it is the 70th article. Therefore, we will decide on our final position when the trial is finished,” said Dzmitry Pyatkevich, Jolan Viaud’s lawyer.

Jolan’s brother Guillaume came to support him.

In the court room, there were also the French consul to Belarus Karin Bardieu and representatives of the French media, who are closely following the case. Number of publications in foreign media about this case has exceeded a dozen and is growing rapidly. Has anyone in the Belarusian justice system thought about the proportionality of the Jolan’s act and the consequences of his long-term detention in prison for the country’s image?

“I believe that the fact that my brother has been in jail for 2 months for such a small act is a big mistake. And I hope that this story will end soon,” said Guillaume Viaud.

On September 21, 2017, while crossing on foot the Belarusian-Ukrainian border checkpoint, Jolan Viaud chose the “red channel”. Due to his long beard, he was sent to the personal search. The young Frenchman first pulled from his backpack a variety of souvenirs, among them was a pistol cartridge, given to him by Polish friend. In Belarus, it was considered a sufficient reason to try Viaud on two counts at once: for the illegal transfer of firearms and trafficking of prohibited substances.

Ihar Kuley/OS, Belsat TV, phot. by Ivan Yaryvanovich, tut.by

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