Updated at 19:06,19-01-2022

Leader of Judaic Religious Association released in courtroom

By Vyachaslaw Budkevich, BelaPAN

Yury Dorn, chairman of the Judaic Religious Association in the Republic of Belarus, was sentenced on Friday to two years in prison and released in the courtroom because he had been held for more than a year in a detention center, where each day is counted as two.

A judge of the Tsentralny District Court in Minsk found the 47-year-old Dorn guilty of large-scale tax evasion under Part Two of the Criminal Code's Article 243. However, the judge found him innocent of exceeding his powers under Part One of Article 426 because no "elements of crime" had been established in his actions. He was also acquitted of exceeding his powers for personal gain under Parts Two and Three of Article 426 because the prosecution had failed to prove his guilt.

On March 21, Tatsyana Rak, the public prosecutor in the trial, demanded five years in prison and the forfeiture of property for the accused.

Ms. Rak also asked the judge to bar Mr. Dorn for five years from holding executive positions and order him to pay a fine of 500 times the Base Rate, or 50 million rubels ($5,800) at present.

Mr. Dorn was arrested on March 13, 2012, and went on trial on December 10. Since the beginning of the trial, charges of bribery, forgery and document theft against him were dropped.

In his final speech on Wednesday, Mr. Dorn admitted to large-scale tax evasion but denied exceeding his powers, an offense that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. He described the latter charge as "far-fetched," noting that it did not follow from the case file.

According to the prosecution, Mr. Dorn purchased a house in the village of Radun in the Voranava district, Hrodna region, in 2001 under the pretext that his Association would use it to establish a museum of a Jewish religious figure. However, the house was taken apart and brought to Lithuania to be sent to the United States. Mr. Dorn allegedly destroyed incriminating documents.

Mr. Dorn is also believed to have illegally allowed various businesspeople to rent the Association's non-residential facilities in Minsk. He allegedly concluded several dozen rental agreements without the consent of the organization's board between 2005 and 2012.