On 6 October, the Minsk Regional Court announced the sentences for the four defendants in the case of the BelaPAN independent news agency. Political prisoners will have to spend the next few years behind bars.
Since the hearings were held in camera and the trial participants signed a non-disclosure statement, the essence of the accusation is not known in detail. No public was not allowed in the courtroom to hear the verdict. Here are the announced sentences:
Iryna Leushyna (BelaPAN editor-in-chief) – four years in prison.
Dzmitry Navazhylau (former BelaPAN CEO) – 6 years in prison.
Andrei Aliaksandrau (former BelaPAN deputy director) – 14 years in prison.
Iryna Zlobina (sociologist, public figure) – 9 years in prison.
Human rights activists declared all defendants in the BelaPAN case political prisoners. During the trial, none of them pleaded guilty to anything.
Iryna Leushyna and Dzmitry Navazhylau were detained on 18 August 2021, Andrei Aliaksandrau and Iryna Zlobina were kept behind bars since 12 January 2021. Their cases were intertwined in different variations.
Aliaksandrau, Leushyna, and Navazhylau were charged with “establishment of an extremist formation,” although all of them had been detained long before the KGB issued a resolution of 1 November 2021 recognizing BelaPAN as such a “formation.”
Aliaksandrau and Zlobina were initially prosecuted under the criminal article “facilitating people’s participation in mass riots” (by paying fines given to peaceful protest participants). Later they were also charged with “high treason.”
Aliaksandrau and Navazhylau were suspected of tax evasion of 200 thousand dollars.