23 January 2021, Saturday, 7:32
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Witness Alyaksandr Kozel: I was forced to give evidence against Autukhovich

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The trial over the case of political prisoners Mikalai Autukhovich and Uladzimir Asipenka goes on in the Supreme Court.

Witness Alyaksandr Kozel, who had already been questioned a week ago, as guarded to the court from a penal colony, Radio Svaboda reports. He said, in particular, that he had been pressed during the investigation and forced to give wrong evidence against Mikalai Autukhovich. He had to say that Autukhovich had ordered to put the house of former chief of the Vaukavysk district militia Syarhei Katsuba on fire.

Footage of witness Kozel saying Autukhovich had relation to the crime was shown in the court today. Alyaksandr Kozel repeated today that he had given the evidence under pressure, he had been beaten before and made to slander Autukhovich. He again confirmed he didn’t know whether Autukhovich was involved in the arsons.

There arouse a question how the witness is treated in prison. it became known that a prosecutor’s check-up is being carried out initiated by Kozel’s statement made in court a week ago. He said that unlawful actions had been taken against him. Mikalai Autukhovich tried to calm Alyaksandr Kozel down and said he shouldn’t fear. He also asked if Kozzel knew about the so-called press-house in Valadarka prison, where inmates are put to unlawful moral and physical pressure. Judge Alyaksei Tsyatsyukhin, who conducts the trial, disallowed the question.

We remind that all witnesses in the case of Autukhovich say about strong pressure by investigators, state the Vaukavysk businessman is not guilty and deny their previous evidence.

Witness Lyudmila Paremskaya, a former accountant at Autukhovich’s firm Nika-trans, stated about psychological pressure.

“Everything I told investigators about arms is untrue. I was in a state when I could tell and write everything to be released,” Lyudmila Paremskaya said about her evidence regarding a grenade launcher found in Hrodna.

Businessman from Orsha Ihar Puzikau told the court he had been threatened, he had been promised early release, interrogated as a suspect, and it was effective: he gave necessary testimony. The award for him was not only freedom, but money for the ticket from Hrodna to Orsha and a bottle of vodka from the hands of the investigator.