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Belarus Jewish leader convicted of tax evasion, sentenced to time served

(JTA) — Yuri Dorn, a Jewish community leader in Belarus, was convicted of tax evasion but set free after a year in jail.

Dorn, president of the Union of Religious Jewish Congregations in Belarus, was arrested in March 2012 on allegations that he had mismanaged the community’s property for personal gain. Police also said Dorn had been caught accepting a $13,000 bribe in a sting operation. Prosecutors had accused Dorn of renting out space belonging to the Jewish community without permission.

Earlier this week, Dorn pleaded guilty to tax evasion but denied charges that he abused his position or rented out the space without permission. The latter charges were dismissed Friday by the judge of the Central District Court of Minsk.

Dorn was convicted, however, of evading taxes but the judge said the year Dorn spent in prison was his penance for the offense, according to the Interfax news agency. 

In a  Liberty Radio interview following his release, Dorn said he would resign from his position as president of the Union of Religious Jewish Congregations. He was placed under house arrest until the sentence goes into effect, Intefax reported. Dorn does not intend to appeal the verdict, according to the news agency.

On March 21, prosecutor Tatiana Rak asked the court to hand down a five-year sentence to be served in a medium-security facility. 

Last month, prosecutors in Minsk dropped bribery charges that were included initially in their indictment.

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