Trial of American lawyer, his secretary charged with spying continued today in Belarus

The trial of American lawyer Emanuel Zeltser and his secretary Vladlena Funk, who have been held in custody in Minsk since March 12, continued today, accoding to online paper Khartiya'97.

Zeltser, who once testified on Capitol Hill about the Russian mob, is a key character in a wrangle over the $12billion fortune of a Georgian oligarch Badri Patarkatsishvili found dead at his country home in Surrey, UK. He was arrested by the KGB of Belarus after flying to Minsk. According to Amnesty International, he has been tortured in custody, The Times of London says.

Zeltser and Funk are facing charges of business espionage and possessing false documents. The man also is to answer a charge of smuggling illegal drugs into Belarus. The drugs charges were added to Zeltser's original charges when Belarus's security service said that Zeltser was found to be carrying 100 narcotic tablets. However, his lawyer maintains that the tablets were for treating a back complaint.

The hearing continued at the Minsk City Court behind closed doors today, neither relatives nor American diplomats were allowed to attend the trial, news agency BelaPAN reports. Zeltser could face up to seven years in prison and Funk up to three years in prison. The pair has been denying their guilt.