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The Lukashists have started “trials in absentia”. But will they become widespread?

NAM lawyer Artsiom Praskalovich answers on Malanka

In July Lukashenko signed new scandalous amendments to the Criminal Code that allow "trials" of "dissidents" who left Belarus without their participation. It was promised that it would even be possible to sentence them to execution in this way.

This week this norm has been put into practice for the first time: the Investigative Committee announced the first five “accused in absentia”. Why only five, and why is this only now known?

— Cases of "extremism," "terrorism," etc. are opened not only in the capital, but also in the regions. Information about wanted persons can appear on the websites of regional departments of Investigative Committee, KGB or Prosecutor's Office, or not appear at all. Thus, it is not entirely clear where to look for such information.

— It is possible that the regime has not yet prepared the institutions and apparatuses that it will use for "remote" prosecution. Or not all the necessary legal acts have been enacted.

— It seems that this is not a "popular" measure. There is no information that the procedure will be applied to suspects, for example, of extremism. Those involved in terrorism, trafficking in weapons, poisons, radioactive substances, etc., and crimes against humanity (e.g., genocide) are listed as candidates.

By many indications, the procedure is unlikely to become mass: it is technically difficult. In order to run it for each person who has left, it would take up to six months to wait for the refusal to extradite a "suspect" by the country where he or she is staying. However, the "lawmakers" of the regime do not yet understand that they have dug their own grave with their initiative.


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