Artur Finkevich sentenced to 7-day arrest in absence for EU flags at official rally

The court of the Pershamaiski district of Minsk sentenced Artur Finkevich, deputy head of the Young Front organisation, to 7-day administrative arrest in his absence.

The ground of the judgement was a report, drawn up by officers of the Pershamaiski district militia department after detention of Finkevich near the National Library on 1 May, where he took part in a peaceful street action, dedicated to the Day of Europe. Officers of the militia department accused some of the detained, including Artur Finkevich, of violating part 3 of article 23.34 of the Code of Administrative Offences (active participating in unauthorised event), drew up reports and released them, the detained pledged to come on call.

It is necessary to note that Artur wasn’t summoned to court or to militia department since 1 May. Moreover, according to part 1 of article 11.4 of the Administrative Procedure Code a judge doesn’t have the right to hear the case in absence of an accused, besides the situatio0ns, when the accused person has confessed his or her guilt, or has repeatedly ignored requests for summons. All of the detained on the action on 1 May denied the charge. None of the detained at the action was summoned to court or to militia department.

However, a trial was held on 15 May. Both Finkevich and his lawyer, who was to defend Artur in court, didn’t know about it. Artur learnt about the judgement only on 19 May, when an officer of the Pershamaiski district militia department phoned to him and asked where he could find Finkevich. The militia officer said to Artur’s mother, her son was sentenced to arrest by the court of the Pershamaiski district and the militia department was going to put him on the wanted list.

As it is became known, the decision on administrative arrest was taken by judge of the Pershamaiski district court Harbatouski. According to the Code on Administrative Offences, the decision of the court violates the law and is not legally valid.

The Young Front doesn’t exclude that decision was confined to Finkevich departure to Porto (Portugal) where he is to take part in the YEPP (Youth of the European People’s Party) session on 22-25 May.

In spite of the obstacles, Artur Finkevich managed to leave Belarus. He wil soon take part in the scheduled event.

More than 100 activists of the civil campaign “European Belarus” came to the National Library on 1 May and rose up dozens of European flags at the official rally. 1 May is officially marked in Belarus as Labour Day. Besides, this date has an important meaning both for Europe and for Belarus: four years ago 10 new states joined the European Union and the EU border extended to our country.

As soon as EU flags appeared among the red-green official flags at the rally, riot militiamen run up to oppositionists. Riot militiamen snatched EU flags away, broke flagpoles, took away blue cloths with stars.

About 30 people were detained at the official rally. They were guarded to the Pershamaiski district militia department. After some hours most of them were set free without reports drawn up. Reports were drawn up against some people. Among them were Zmitser Dashkevich, Yauhen Afnahel, Paval Yukhnevich, Artur Finkevich. On 2 May Mikola Statkevich, one of the leaders of the civil campaign “European Belarus,” got 15-day arrest.

The militia report against the politician says “was waiving a blue flag with yellow stars, through a megaphone called to join the European Union, by these actions violated article 23.34 of the Code of Administrative Offences.”