Belarusian human rights activists, observing the criminal proceeding on the case of entrepreneurs addressed Benedikt Haller, the head of the OSCE Office in Minsk.
The website “Belorusski Partizan” publishes the text of the statement.
“The court proceeding over accusation of entrepreneurs from Vaukavysk Mikalai Autukhovich, Uladzimir Asipanka and Alyaksandr Laryn has been carried out since March 10, 2010. Mikalai Autukhovich and Uladzimir Asipenka were arrested in Vaukavysk on February 8, 2009. Political prisoner Mikalai Autukhovich was earlier persecuted for his struggle for the rights of businessmen. Human rights activist think he and Uladzimir Asipenka are accused of committing some grave crimes. Protesting against the unlawful arrest, Autukhovich went on a 90-day hungry strike in prison that has ruined his health. The accused face the maximum punishment – life imprisonment or death penalty. Only Alyaksandr Laryn admits his guilt partially.
In January 2010, Human Rights Watch, an influential international organization, recognized the Vaukavysk entrepreneurs political prisoners.
Witness Alyaksandr Kozel, guarded to the court from a penal colony, was questioned on March 25, 2010.
Alyaksandr Kozel is serving punishment for the arson of the house of former Vaukavysk militia chief Katsuba in 2005. Alyaksandr Kozel was convicted in 2006. He was a minor at that time.
The witness said he had been pressed by investigators before the trial in 2006, beaten and demanded that he should have given false evidence against Mikalai Autukhovich. He was forced to say that Autukhovich had ordered to set Katsuba’s house on fire.
On March 25, 2010, witness Alyaksandr Katsuba said he had given the evidence under pressure by investigators, but now he don’t want and cannot slander an innocent person.
Yury Artsyukevich gave similar evidence in the Supreme Court. He is serving sentence for arson the house of Vitaly Katsuba, the former head of the Vaukavysk militia department. He was convicted in 2006 by the court of Vaukavysk.
He said he had two meetings with investigation officers: the first time was in a detention facility in Hrodna in 2007, the second time was in Minsk in February 2009. There were attempt to force him to give false evidence that Autukhovich had ordered to set on fire Katsuba’s house.
Yury Lyavonau, Uladzimir Asipenka, Mikhail Kazlou, Mikalai Autukhovich, Alyaksandr Kozel, and Yury Artsyukevich said about pressure by investigators.
Taking into account public importance of the case, fearing for health and lives of witnesses, who given evidence exposing investigators, we call on you, the head of the OSCE Office in Minsk, to draw special attention to incarceration conditions of Alyaksandr Kozel and Yury Artsyukevich, witnesses in Autukhovich’s case.”
The address to head of the OSCE Office in Minsk was signed by Raisa Mikhailouskaya (Human Rights Center), Aleh Vouchak, Alesya Murauyova (Legal Assistance to People), human rights activist Vyachaslau Siuchyk, co-head of the organizing committee for creating War Veterans Movement “Defenders of Motherland” Alyaksandr Kamarouski, writer Paval Sevyarynets, Andrei Sushko (Committee for Defense of the Repressed People “Solidarity”).