ENNews 21.08.2014

The protector of prisoners was sentenced to three years imprisonment

bondarenkoThe head of the human rights organization the Platform, Andrey Bondarenko, was sentenced to three years imprisonment for disorderly conduct.

Bondarenko was arrested on April 1 and within a few days the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus published a video that became one of the evidence for his accusation. On the video Bondarenko is kicking some women who recorded him on the phone. In addition he was accused of beating a man.

This is not the first criminal case of Bondarenko. He was sentenced for economic criminality in 2009, but he was acquitted and dismissed in 2011. Many politicians then associated Bondarenko’s prosecution with his candidacy in parliamentary elections in 2008.

After his discharge Bondarenko founded the Platform, the human rights organization that protects the rights of prisoners in Belarus. The organization was repeatedly drawing attention of the public and of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to violations of human rights in places of detention.

Many activists and politicians following the process drew attention to a “specific approach” of investigation and trial.

First of all it was the fact, that the Press Department of the Investigative Committee, usually not very much willing to cooperate with journalists, was very active this time. Secondly, an anonymous witness spoke from a secret room during the trial and his testimony given during the investigation differed significantly from that given in court.

Bondarenko himself admitted his guilt, although his colleague from the United Civic Party (A. Dobrovolsky) believes that a criminal proceeding instead of the administrative one testifies a political order.

Other human rights organizations have not published their opinion about the process yet. They are waiting at least for the appeal against the verdict to a higher instance court.