top of page

Trial of Belarusian union lawyer began in absentia

On June 12, 2024, the Homyel Regional Court begins the in absentia hearing of the case against the former political prisoner Leanid Sudalenka, a human rights defender and the legal officer of the Radio and Electronics Workers’ Union. The new criminal case against him was started in November 2023 in the format of “special proceedings”. Leanid is charged under the CC article on “aiding extremist activities”.

Leanid with his “god parent”, the Bundestag member Konstantin von Notz
Leanid with his “god parent”, the Bundestag member Konstantin von Notz

The case will be tried by the Judge Anatolyi Sotnikau.

Leanid Sudalenka is a well-know human rights defender and a union lawyer who was the head of Homyel branch of the Human Rights Center “Viasna”. He was sentenced for three years in prison for his activity. Upon his release, he left Belarus.

Leanid was already abroad when he learnt of the new criminal charges that the Homyel District Court had brought against him. Leanid is accused under Parts 1 and 2 of Article 361-4 of the Criminal Code (CC) (“aiding extremist activities”) for giving an interview to media that had been recognized as “extremist” in Belarus.

The human rights defender instantly sent a letter to the investigators telling them that he had been forced to leave the country and move to Lithuania because of repressions, and he provided his mobile phone number for any subsequent communications. However, he got no response; neither from the investigators, nor from the pro bono lawyer appointed by the State.

The union lawyer sent appeals to the Homyel Regional Court, seeking the removal of the judge and the pro bono lawyer, and announced that he would take part in the trial through a web-conference. And in early June, Leanid requested the Constitutional Court of Belarus to exert its influence over the practice of trials in absentia in the country:

“They all keep silent, including the Chief Judge of the country. This is why I have raised the issue of checking the constitutional legitimacy of the so-called special criminal proceedings before the Constitutional Court. I hope my personal examples shall most vividly demonstrate and expose the situation that Belarus finds itself in.

It will be noted that a week ago, at the International Labour Conference, Marc Lemans spoke of the continued deterioration of the situation in Belarus and the ongoing prosecution of union activists, using the new criminal case against the already released Leanid Sudalenka as an example.

In his comments, Leanid pointed out that he was prepared to go to the Belarusian Court to prove his innocence. On one condition: “I shall return together with the Constitutional rule of law”!

Read this text in бел or рус


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page