Belarusian Activist Released From Long Detention In Ukraine

Ukrainian officials have released a Belarusian opposition activist from a Crimean jail based on a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Ihar Koktysh, 29, is wanted by Belarusian authorities for alleged involvement in a murder. He has been living in Ukraine since 2002.

In the summer of 2007, Koktysh was arrested by police in Simferopol on a request by Belarusian authorities. He spent two years and seven months in a detention center as officials considered whether to extradite him to Belarus.

Koktysh told RFE/RL after his release that he is happy that "justice has prevailed." He said he will rest and have a thorough medical examination.

Koktysh said Minsk's case against him is politically motivated because of his opposition activities in support of Belarusian presidential candidate Alyaksandr Milinkevich in 2006.

The court in Strasbourg ruled that Belarus's charges against him were trumped up and that Ukrainian authorities kept him in jail illegally.

The Strasbourg court ruled on December 10 that Ukrainian authorities violated Koktysh's rights and should release him. Ukraine is also obliged by the court decision to pay him 7,000 euros ($10,000) as compensation.

A Simferopol court is scheduled on February 12 to hear his request to be a political refugee.


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