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COE Urges Investigation Of 'Vanished' Belarusians

Brussels, 27 January 2004 (RFE/RL) -- The human-rights body Council of Europe (COE) is calling for a criminal investigation into the possible involvement of senior Belarus officials in the disappearances of four prominent men in Belarus in 1999 and 2000.

The missing include the country's former interior minister, a journalist, a senior legislator, and a businessman. A panel of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly unanimously adopted a report charging that people "at the highest level of the state" acted to cover up the disappearances.

The report calls for the "maximum political pressure" -- including sanctions and outside criminal actions under the principle of universal jurisdiction -- to force Belarus leaders to investigate the disappearances.