British lawyers intend to file a lawsuit against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in an attempt to hold him liable for torturing political prisoners. A law firm from London has already collected evidence from hundreds of Belarusian opposition members, who were detained and beaten in the course of demonstrations following that country’s recent presidential elections.
Britain’s The Independent newspaper published an article about a pending lawsuit against the Belarusian leader prepared by London’s leading legal office under the title Lukashenko: the dictator in the dock. The H2O Law company, which is based in the City of London and specializes in defending human rights, has appeared for celebrities, businessmen and politicians on repeated occasions. At present, the company’s vast legal experience may come into play for the Belarusian opposition. The London lawyers are reported to be armed with the “evidence of systematic torture inside the KGB-run prisons of Belarus,” as The Independent put it.
The British legal firm represents Free Belarus Now, a civil group established by the families of opposition politicians and journalists who were arrested during the demonstrations. One of the company’s partners, Jason McCue, said that his colleagues and he “have got all the ingredients to pursue both a private prosecution and civil action against Alexander Lukashenko.” They possess witness accounts from numerous Belarusians who fled their country for Europe after being arrested and beaten in prisons for attending a rally protesting against the results of Belarus’s latest presidential election. Trials over many of those people were carried out swiftly, without any lawyers, and resulted in their receiving short prison terms. According to The Independent, oppositionists who are still kept in custody have no lawyers either. The prisoners’ families lost their last hope to get in touch with them, after at least five public defenders were for one reason or another deprived of their legal licenses.
Members of international human rights organizations came to the conclusion that “torture, beatings and inhumane prison conditions are commonplace in a country which still calls its feared secret police the KGB and is often described as Europe’s last dictatorship,” The Independent writes.
London lawyers hope that a private lawsuit will eventually result in an arrest warrant being issued for Alexander Lukashenko. The Belarusian President, who is often referred to as a person who created and maintained a quasi-Soviet state, has already been banned from entering the European Union. However, an arrest warrant will also cover those non-EU countries which have extradition agreements with Great Britain. If the London law firm proceeds as planned, an arrest warrant would be for the first time issued against an incumbent head of state.
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