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Belarus Supreme Court Upholds Rights Defender's Sentence

Supporters outside the Belarusian Embassy in Paris in 2011 hold signs of Ales Byalyatski.
The Supreme Court of Belarus has upheld the 4 1/2-year prison sentence of the leader of Minsk-based Vyasna (Spring) human rights center.

Ales Byalyatski was arrested in August 2011 and sentenced in November on tax-evasion charges that the European Union and United States have condemned as politically motivated.

The charges against Byalyatski stemmed from his alleged use of personal accounts in Lithuania and Poland to receive funding from international donors for rights activities in Belarus.

Byalyatski has pleaded not guilty.

Vyasna human rights center said on September 21 that the Belarusian Supreme Court was the last official body inside the country where Byalyatski could appeal and now he is eligible to appeal his verdict with international courts.

Based on reporting by Interfax