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  • Students’ Case Trial: Police Disperse And Detain Supporters, TUT.BY Journalist

    On 14 May, the Oktyabrsky District Court of Minsk begins to consider the “case of students” who were detained last November and accused of organizing and preparing actions that grossly violate public order. There are 12 accused in total: ten students from different Minsk universities, a medical graduate and a teacher at BSUIR. For more than six months they have been in jail. By the beginning of the first session, more than a hundred people had come to the courthouse, but only some of them managed to get inside. Journalists of independent media and even some relatives of the accused had to wait outside. Police asked the crowd to disperse, after which the arrests took place.

    Фото: TUT.BY

    The case of the stu­dents is being con­sid­ered by the Oktyabrsky Dis­trict Court of Min­sk in the build­ing of the House of Jus­tice. When the stu­dents were detained, it was late autumn, now it is late spring. They meet it behind the bars of a pre-tri­al deten­tion cen­tre. Friends and rel­a­tives of the accused began to come to the House of Jus­tice, very ear­ly – by 9.30 am. By this time, a minibus with tint­ed win­dows and a police car are already in the park­ing lot near the cour­t­house, and two yel­low bus­es with tight­ly cur­tained win­dows are in the back­yard.

    Vitaly Bud­ko, the father of the detained Kasya from the Belaru­sian State Ped­a­gog­i­cal Uni­ver­si­ty, is also here. Dur­ing these long six months, he nev­er saw his daugh­ter: only the girl’s moth­er and grand­moth­er were allowed to see her once. Will he see his daugh­ter today? As he was explained, there are only 20 seats for the audi­ence in the court­room, and there are 12 accused, and each has more than one rel­a­tive.

    Young peo­ple who came to sup­port the stu­dents are gath­er­ing on the porch of the House of Jus­tice, they go inside, but quick­ly come back. “They said that there are few seats in the court­room, so at first only rel­a­tives will be allowed. They asked if we could at least stand at the door They said no, because of the “COVID-19″. And this was said by a man with­out a mask,” the young peo­ple are indig­nant and remain stand­ing on the porch.

    By 9.40, sev­er­al dozen peo­ple had already gath­ered out­side the build­ing. In the build­ing itself, there are guards and plain­clothes offi­cers on duty. Police offi­cers are also on duty in the street. Lawyers were allowed into the court­room first, then two rel­a­tives of each accused. Jour­nal­ists and ordi­nary vis­i­tors will be admit­ted only if there are emp­ty seats in the room.

    After 10.15, the accused were brought into the hall. The hear­ing is sched­uled for 10.30. The tri­al is being con­duct­ed by judge Mari­na Fedoro­va. Nei­ther jour­nal­ists nor pho­tog­ra­phers, who do not need a place in the room, were not allowed to attend the hear­ing. Some of the rel­a­tives of the accused, as well as jour­nal­ists, remained in the cor­ri­dor. The doors of the court­room closed, although thу process is open. The grand­moth­er, who was not allowed inside, burst into tears.

    More than a hun­dred peo­ple remain on the street who came to sup­port the accused. A police­man came out and request­ed to dis­perse, but the peo­ple said that they would stand until the end of the hear­ing. Those who came to sup­port the stu­dents were in no hur­ry to leave. The process was accel­er­at­ed by police offi­cers, who yelled in a mega­phone that “peo­ple will no longer be allowed into the court­room, please dis­perse.” A few min­utes lat­er, riot police offi­cers got out of the minibus and peo­ple slow­ly began to dis­perse. Those who did it at a leisure­ly pace were stopped by riot police offi­cers and tak­en into a minibus.

    Among the detainees is the ex-chair­man of the Unit­ed Civ­il Par­ty Ana­toly Lebed­ko. As the read­ers informed TUT.BY, he was stopped by peo­ple in civil­ian clothes as he was about to leave. 

    TUT.BY jour­nal­ist Lyubov Kasper­ovich was also detained. Before her arrest, she inter­viewed friends of one of the accused — she ful­filled her pro­fes­sion­al duties, prepar­ing a report.

    Very soon there was no one left near the cour­t­house. Two police­men were on duty at the entrance, the area was patrolled by police ser­vice vehi­cles. Accord­ing to the Min­sk city exec­u­tive committee’s depart­ment of inter­nal affairs, at about 11 am, 14 peo­ple were detained near the House of Jus­tice, who “did not ful­fil the law­ful demands of the police offi­cers.”

    “Law enforce­ment offi­cers have repeat­ed­ly warned the audi­ence about the ille­gal­i­ty of hold­ing mass events and asked to dis­perse. These cit­i­zens were tak­en to the dis­trict police depart­ment of Min­sk for inves­ti­ga­tion,” the state­ment reads.

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