The number of individuals who were exempted from criminal prosecution in the first three months of 2012 was six times higher than in the same period of the previous year, Mikhail Dubovik, a departmental chief at the Investigative Committee of Belarus, told reporters on May 22.
Criminal penalties are increasingly replaced with punishment under the Civil Offenses Code for first-time offenders whose crimes pose no serious public danger if they repent and reconcile with their victims, Mr. Dubovik explained.
Starting January 1, 2012, not only prosecutors but also investigators are allowed to exempt people from criminal prosecution on these grounds, he added.
As a result, 1,081 first-time offenders escaped criminal prosecution in the first three months of 2012, up from 170 in the same period of the previous year, Mr. Dubovik said, noting that the newly established Investigative Committee was playing a key role in the liberalization of the country's correctional system.
According to him, 23.2 percent of the people charged with criminal offenses were held in custody in the first four months of 2012, a decrease of 2.4 percentage points. //BelaPAN