Belarusian Oppositionist Freed After Two Years In Jail

Belarusian businessman and opposition activist Andrey Bandarenka has been found not guilty of financial mismanagement by a Minsk city court after spending two years in jail, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Bandarenka was released from custody on March 22 after the verdict was read.

Bandarenka, a member of the United Civic Party (AHP), told RFE/RL upon his release that the two years in jail had strengthened him. He said he plans to spend time with his family but added that he will continue "to do what I used to do before."

Bandarenka said he will not discuss whether he will sue the city administration for jailing him until he gets an official document that confirms his innocence.

Minsk's Pershamaysky district court found Bandarenka guilty of financial mismanagement and sentenced him to seven years in jail in October 2009. The judgment also confiscated all of his property.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges and said the case was retaliation by authorities for his taking part in the 2008 parliamentary elections.

He noted that some "political elements" were present in the judge's verdict on Tuesday (March 22) that found him not guilty.


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