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Belarusian Opposition Figure Faces More Hard Time

Mikolay Statkevich and his wife, Maryna Adamovich (file photo)

Alleged rules violations at a penal colony have jailed Belarusian opposition politician Mikalay Statkevich facing a return to maximum-security prison.

A court began investigating Statkevich's case at the penal colony, located in the eastern city of Shklou, on May 4.

If found guilty, Statkevich could be transferred to a high-security facility, where he would be held in a cell. He can currently walk within a limited territory on the grounds of the penal colony.

Belarusian journalists and human rights activists were not allowed to attend the hearing.

Statkevich's wife, Maryna Adamovich, and his lawyer Alyaksandr Halieu are attending the hearing.

Statkevich, a former presidential candidate, is serving a six-year prison term for "organizing mass disturbances" following authoritarian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's reelection in December 2010.

Statkevich pleaded not guilty to the original charge and has insisted that his imprisonment was politically motivated.

He also refused to ask Lukashenka to pardon him.

Statkevich was transferred in January to the penal colony in Shklou after spending three years at a maximum-security prison in the city of Mahileu. He had been sent to that facility after he was found to have violated regulations at the Shklou facility.

Belarusian human rights activist and former political prisoner Ales Byalyatski, who was not allowed to enter the Shklou penal colony to attend the trial, told RFE/RL that the verdicts in such prison trials are often a fait accompli.

"The charges and accusations in such cases are based on testimonies and protocols of the prison guards and personnel and therefore cannot be considered legitimate," Byalyatski said.

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