11 June 2023, Sunday, 4:12
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American lawyer Zeltser's defense counsel complains to Supreme Court about delay in pardon decision


The defense counsel of imprisoned Emanuel Zeltser has complained to the Supreme Court of Belarus about foot-dragging over the American lawyer's possible release under this year’s amnesty law.

Dzmitry Harachka also sent a copy of the complaint to the Prosecutor General's Office.

The administration of Mahilyow's correctional institution where Mr. Zeltser is held is to consider the release after it gets a reply to its inquiry whether any legal actions have been brought in connection with his case. The inquiry was sent three weeks ago.

Under Belarus' laws, such an inquiry may be made, but a reply should be sent immediately, Mr. Harachka told BelaPAN.

The American lawyer is regarded as eligible for the release under the amnesty law. The man, who served more than a fourth of his term, falls into the qualifying category of those who have been sentenced to no more than six years in prison and served at least one fourth of the sentence.

The 55-year-old Zeltser who is suffering ill health went on hunger strike on Monday to protest the delay in a decision about his release.

A representative of the US embassy visited Mr. Zeltser on Thursday. The American lawyer told the officer that he was set to continue his fast, according to the embassy's press office.

In August 2008, Mr. Zeltser was sentenced to three years in prison on charges of "attempted industrial espionage" and the use of fake documents. His secretary, Russian national Vladlena Funk, was sentenced to one year in prison on the same charges. The Minsk City Court held the trial behind closed doors and no details of the case were disclosed to the public.

The pair were put into custody upon their arrival in Minsk in March 2008. Ms. Funk was released from Homyel’s correctional institution on March 12, the end of her time. She left Belarus after being held in a local detention center for more than a week.

Since his transfer to the correctional facility in Mahilyow, Mr. Zeltser has been staying in the prison’s medical unit.