Immanuel Seltzer , US citizen, lawyer thrown in Byelorussion cell after Boris Berezovsky testimony. US diplomats do nothing and no press / TV . WTF?
A most curious thing has happened - a communist dictator has thrown a US citizen in jail - and no-one knows about it.
Immanuel Seltzer is a lawyer. he has an American passport. he is an American citizen. He also acts on behalf of Josef Kay - he is the step-brother of the immensely wealthy (but recently deceased) Georgian businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili.
Now Boris and Badri's widow the weeping Inna Gudavadze contest the capacity of Josef Kay to be the "the testament manager" of the dead billionaire and therefore in a position to dispose of his billions.
Immanuel flew into Minsk in Byelorussia on 12th March .
He was arrested and charged by the local KGB with
1. Using forged documents
2. Illegal drug traffic (medicine he had been taking for 15 years)
3. Commercial espionage.
The medicines, fell foul of 2 articles of the Byelorussian Criminal Code – smuggling of drugs and traffic of drugs.
Of course even the Byelorussian KGB don't but the bracelets on without a sound reason .They had started a criminal case of commercial espionage.
He appeared in court again on Friday after having been checked over by an American doctor who stated after examining him not taking necessary medication might be fatal.
Regrettably the criminal case about forged documents is also a state secret. So it means basically they just keep Seltzer in prison as long as possible.According to Immanuel Seltzer’s brother, Mark, on 5th August Boris Berezovsky flew to Minsk with Yuly Dubov to provide evidence. When asked about his trip, rasons for it and his involvement in the case Boris simply answers “I do not comment on my traveling”.
However there has been a result Immanuel Seltzer has been sentenced to 3 years by the Minsk court for “collecting the information of commercial character and for using the forged documents”. The lawyer’s secretary, Russian citizen Vladlena Funk is found guilty on same counts and is sentenced to one year in a minimum security colony.
Paradoxically American diplomats have no details of the court proceedings. They were not allowed to be present .
Jonathan Moor head of the mission said “We don’t even know what he is charged with. We cannot watch his health condition”
When the sentence was delivered , he said that the US embassy cannot be sure whether the court procedure has met the international legal standards (You can be sure as hell it didn't).
An official comment by the US embassy said that the workers of consular service had not had opportunity to see Mr. Seltzer during last two months, despite the fact the embassy is still trying to obtain permission to see him.
Dmitry Goryachko will be appealing the sentences of his clients Seltzer and Funk in the Byelorussian Supreme Court. He has no illusions about the outcome. “This sentence is equal to an execution” he said after the trial ,referring to his clients poor health.
It should be explained further, US diplomatic representation in Minsk is somewhat limited. On 2 April the deputy Byelorussian foreign minister Viktor Gaisenok stated that the embassy would have to reduce the number of its employees according to the 6+1 formula.
That means only 6 persons, plus the ambassador herself, will be allowed working in the embassy.
Actually, the US ambassador , Karen Stewart wasn't in Minsk and had left on 12 March . This all relates to US imposed sanctions on the Belneftehim which they say would be withdrawn only after releasing the political prisoner and opponent of the GovernmentAlexander Kozulin.Who is widely reported to be funded by Moscow.
The lamentable state of US protection of it's citizens abroad and the treatment of it's diplomatic staff could do with a wider audience.