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Belarus man to be deported for Burlington church arson - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Belarus man to be deported for Burlington church arson

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Friday, Aliaksandr Bychkou admitted setting a fire within the College Street Congregational Church.

"I don't remember everything, I don't remember much," Bychkou said.

The 32-year-old Belarus native says voices told him to ignite the church.

Firefighters managed to extinguish the October fire, but not before it claimed the historic steeple.

Bychkou faced more than a decade behind bars after pleading guilty to arson and burglary. But prosecutors agreed not to seek time beyond what he has served already in exchange for his promise not to fight deportation.

After leaving the courthouse Bychkou went straight to federal custody.

"This resolution made the most sense because at the end of the day, Mr. Bychkou forfeited his right to be here," Chittenden County Prosecutor T.J. Donovan said.

Though parishioners did not testify in court, Donovan says prosecutors did consult church leadership-- who approved-- before pursuing the deal.   

"I would like to say that I am very sorry and I would like to say that I am interest to go home to deal with my issues and thanks church for understanding," Bychkou said.

Bychkou's attorney says his client did seek mental health assistance in the weeks leading up to the incident. He'll try to rebuild his life back home, as a congregation rebuilds its home.

Bychkou does not have a criminal record outside these charges.

He came to the U.S. seeking asylum. He has faced deportation previously in Utah, though it's not clear why that process began or how he remained in the country.

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