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Belarus Court Upholds Jail Time For Rights Activist

Ales Byalyatski during his trial in Minsk in November
Ales Byalyatski during his trial in Minsk in November
MINSK -- A Belarusian court has upheld the conviction and 4 1/2-year jail sentence for human rights activist Ales Byalyatski.

The Minsk City Court ruled on appeal that Byalyatski, leader of the Spring (Vyasna) organization, should stay behind bars even though his supporters have paid the fine portion of his penalty for tax evasion.

The same court in November used bank-account information provided by Lithuania and Poland under a security cooperation agreement with Belarus to detain Byalyatski and find him guilty of hiding income he made abroad.

Byalyatski's attorney, Dmitry Layevsky, told AFP that he planned to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court of Belarus.

The United States, the European Union, and human rights organizations say Byalyatski’s trial was politically motivated.

The handover of information to Minsk by Lithuania and Poland embarrassed both countries, whose governments have been critical of rights abuses and political repression in Belarus.

based on RFE/RL Belarusian and Russian services and agency reports
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