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Czech Court Rejects Belarusian Extradition Request For Ex-Presidential Candidate

Alyaksey Mikhalevich
Alyaksey Mikhalevich
PRAGUE -- A Prague court has ruled that former Belarusian presidential candidate Ales Mikhalevich should not be extradited to Belarus, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Mikhalevich and several other opposition presidential candidates, along with hundreds of their supporters, were arrested in December 2010 while protesting the results of the presidential election, which they say was rigged to secure incumbent Alyaksandr Lukashenka's victory.

After spending two months in a KGB pretrial detention center in Minsk, Mikhalevich was released and held a press conference at which he compared the detention center to a concentration camp and said he was tortured there.

Mikhalevich said he had to sign an agreement on collaborating with the KGB in order to secure his release on February 19. He also said the charges against him of "organizing mass disorder in Minsk" were still pending.

In March, Mikhalevich secretly left Belarus and was granted political asylum in the Czech Republic. The Belarusian authorities then requested his extradition.

Mikhalevich told RFE/RL after the court ruling on October 13 that "it was not likely that the Czech court would have ruled otherwise, as it would contradict international norms."

Mikhalevich added that the Czech Justice Ministry must announce its decision regarding the Belarusian extradition request based on the court ruling. Mikhalevich predicted the ministry's decision would be identical to the court's.

"In the event that I travel to other European Union countries, I may be stopped by police, as the official Belarusian request for my extradition is still in force, but it is not likely that I will be extradited, as similar court hearings would have to be held first," Mikhalevich told RFE/RL.

Read more in Belarusian here