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European Parliament Urges Belarus To Fully Probe Activist's Death

Aleh Byabenin was found hanged
European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek has called on the government of Belarus to conduct a full investigation into the mysterious death of prominent opposition activist Aleh Byabenin.

Byabenin operated the website, which is highly critical of the government. He was found hanged at a country house outside the capital Minsk on September 3.

Prosecutors declared after an autopsy on September 4 that the death was a probable suicide.

But Byabenin's colleagues from Charter 97 and other opposition groups have rejected the finding.

Dzmitry Bondarenka, a friend of Byabenin and coordinator of civil campaign "European Belarus" told reporters on September 5 at a demonstration in Minsk that he has doubts about the ruling.

"We don't believe that it was a suicide, because there were no reasons for that. We are approaching the presidential election and Aleh should have played an important role in the campaign of the opposition candidate, [Andrey] Sannikau."

Dunja Mijatovic's, a representative for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said in a statement on September 6 that Belarusian authorities should hold an "independent investigation" into the mysterious death of Byabenin, warning that the case could lead to a "chilling effect" on media in the country.

Buzek, in a statement posted on the Charter 97 website, called for a "full and transparent" investigation into Bebenin's "tragic death."

compiled from agency reports