Conscientious Objector Acquitted In Belarus

The central court in the Belarusian city of Homel has acquitted a Jehovah's Witness who had been charged with avoiding mandatory military service, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Dzmitry Smyk said that his belief did not allow him to bear arms. Judge Alena Tsalkova ruled that "Smyk's actions do not constitute a crime."

Smyk told RFE/RL after he left the courtroom a free man that he felt happy that justice had prevailed.

The Homel prosecutor has 10 days in which to file a motion against the court's decision.

Viktar Adzinochanka, who is a lecturer at Skaryna Religious University and a representative of the Christian Association in Belarus, told RFE/RL that the Belarusian authorities recently adopted a more realistic attitude toward Jehovah's Witnesses.

In Belarus, every male between the age of 18 and 27 has to serve in the army for two years.


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