Human Rights House Foundation

Belarus

Image: Ex-political prisoner Aliaksandr Malchanau back behind bars 
Copyright: belsat.eu

Ex-political prisoner Aliaksandr Malchanau back behind bars

Former political prisoner, 23-year-old Aliaksandr Malchanau (right) was found guilty of stealing scrap metal from a closed workshop of a metal stamping plant. The ex-prisoner had no other ways to make a living.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012, by Belarusian HRH based on svaboda.org

On 9 April ex-political prisoner Aliaksandr Malchanau was sentenced to a year and six months of imprisonment in a penal colony for allegedly stealing a 737,000 Belarusian roubles (appr. € 70) worth of scrap metal. Malchanau's lawyer intends to file an appeal to Minsk regional court within ten days allotted by law.

At court Aliaksandr Malchanau pleaded not guilty of premeditated theft, stating that on 13 January this year his friend and he collected unowned items in a workshop that had been unfinished and abandoned 20 years ago. According to Malchanau, people used to collect scrap metal in that very shop and the security did not detain anyone.

After his previous arrest on 19 December 2010 and a sentence to three years in prison, Aliaksandr Malchanau lost everything - his metalworker job at BATE plant, and his studies at the International Humanities-Economic Institute.

After Aliaksandr was granted pardon and released from prison in September last year, he could not find a job - employers did not want to hire him, at the same time he could not afford to start small business.

"He was going from plant to plant, but wherever he came they always would ask him if he had had previous convictions. When he said he had, that was the end of the conversation. They also asked what he had been convicted for. Then they would say: Get lost... ", says Valery Malchanau, the father of the activist.

Aliaksandr started to collect scrap metal out of despair to earn something.

In court Malchanau said: "Demanding to deprive me of liberty, the public prosecutor did not take into account that if I were sentenced to imprisonment, my disabled parents would be left without care".

Only Malchanau‘s mother Halina, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, could attend the trial. Valery, the father of the convict, is disabled and cannot leave the apartment.

Halina Malchanava cried when her son's verdict was pronounced.

"I did not expect anything good, because this pardon of his was a clever move. They said that nobody needed them in prison. At large, nodoby needs them either, even to a greater extent. He wanted to stand on his feet, but they didn't allow him to. In no way. Nowhere was it possible for him to get a job. He overstrained his back... He collected this metal, this garbage in crying need, and now a year and a half of strict regime is what he got for it".

**

On 19 December 2010, Aliaksandr Malchanau participated in protests against the rigged presidential election. He was arrested on 6 January 2011 at his home in Barysau. Later, he was accused of participation in the riots and of insulting the national flag, which he tore from the KGB building.

On 2 March 2011 he was sentenced to three years imprisonment in a strict regime colony. He served his sentence in Mahiliou prison No.15. On 14 September 2011 Malchanau was pardoned by decree of Lukashenka.

Belarusian HRH based on svaboda.org

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