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Belarus: Update – Observers intimidated as trial of human rights defender Mr Ales Bialiatski continues
The next hearing of human rights defender Mr Ales Bialiatski's case will take place at 10 am on 10 November 2011 in Maskousky District Court.
The delay has come about due to the demand by the Prosecutor's Office to the State Customs Committee to provide the court with the declarations filled out during the numerous checks Bialiatski was submitted to while crossing the border on his way into the Republic of Belarus.
The examination of witnesses is now complete and all of the written evidence has been reviewed. Thus far, the defence has raised several notable objections. These include the fact that the Prosecutor has not declared how much he considers the personal income of Ales Bialiatski to be, and the fact that some of the evidence on which the case hinges, i.e. the account information obtained from Polish and Lithuanian banks, does not meet the required standard of evidence for consideration in a penal case, as some of the documents are unsigned photocopies that do not bear the stamp of the banks that issued them.
Before entering the trial of Ales Bialiatski, attendees had to pass through two metal detectors and have their personal belongings searched twice. In further attempts to intimidate those wishing to observe the trial, attendees had their passport data recorded every day before entering both the courthouse and the courtroom, and they were filmed entering the courtroom by people in plain clothes.
Over the course of the past week, as the trial has been ongoing, the state-owned media outlets have been running a smear campaign against Ales Bialiatski, painting him as a rich person living a luxurious life in these “difficult times”. By making these statements, the media are prejudicing the outcome of the case and declaring the guilt of Ales Bialiatski before the conclusion of his trial.