Four Belarus police officers linked to the country's notorious secret services went on trial behind closed doors Wednesday for the suspected murder of a Russian cameraman working on a film on the Chechen war.
Dmitry Zavadsky, who worked for Russia's ORT television, went missing on July 7, 2000, after failing to show up for a meeting at Minsk airport, and his disappearance sparked criticism of President Alexander Lukashenko's strongarm regime.
Valery Ignatovich, Maxim Malik, and Sergei Guz, all former operatives in the Belarus interior ministry's special operations division, plus associate Sergei Saushkin, are accused of kidnapping, robbing and murdering Zavadsky.
Zavadsky's mother Olga and wife Svetlana, who attended the first day of the trial, criticised the lack of public access.
"It's wrong that this is a closed trial. It would be better if everybody could see and hear the proceedings," said Zavadsky's mother.
"I'm hoping for the best, and for the relevant facts to come out in court, which will make it possible to find out what happened," she added.
Zavadsky had recently been working on a film about the Russian war in Chechnya at the time of his disappearance.
The policemen's trial follows suggestions earlier this year by Belarus Interior Minister Vladimir Naumov that Zavadsky's kidnapping was linked to an interview he gave to a Belarus newspaper claiming that unnamed Belarus interior ministry agents were fighting on the rebels' side in Chechnya -- Minsk, (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)