Frenchman Jolan Viaud acquitted, released from prison in Belarus
Photo: Jolan Viaud released in a courtroom. Screenshot from Radio Svaboda's video stream.
A court in Belarus finds Frenchman Jolan Viaud not guilty of an intention to smuggle a live cartridge across the border.
On 20 November, a court in Homiel, southern Belarus ruled to release young French tourist Jolan Viaud. He was detained at the Belarus-Ukraine border almost two months ago when he was leaving for Ukraine. When at the border, the Frenchman voluntarily showed a customs officer a souvenir (a cartridge) that a friend from Poland had given him; he also asked whether he could proceed with it through the customs' red corridor. Jolan said he thought the cartridge was a dummie, but the officers deteined the Frenchman for an attempt to smuggle ammunition. He faced up to 7 years in prison if found guilty. The prosecutor asked to release Jolan and award a fine of $3450. However, the court ruled the Frenchman was not guilty and released him immediately in the court room.
Jolan Viaud, 24, a resident of London, was touring Europe. On 21 September, he was passing Belarus on his way from Lithuania to Ukraine. The Frenchman will not try to win compensation for damages while in a Belarus pretrial jail.