Belarusian court sentences Nobel Prize laureate Bialiatski to 10 years in prison
Ales Bialiatski (Photo:spring96.org)
A court in Belarus has sentenced the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and the leader of the Viasna human rights center, Ales Bialiatski, to 10 years in prison, the center’s press service reported on March 3.
In addition to Bialiatski, the court also sentenced Viasna deputy chairman and vice president of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Valiantsin Stefanovic, to 10 years in prison, as well as Viasna lawyer and Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections campaign coordinator, Uladzimir Labkovich, to seven years in prison.
At the same time, Viasna human rights defender Zmitser Salauyou was sentenced to eight years in prison in absentia, as he is currently abroad.
The defendants were also ordered to pay a fine of BYN 840,000 (about $330,000).
“It is in the traditions of the Belarusian people to help people who are in trouble,” Bialiatski said.
“But if the Criminal Code, which is applied against such charitable assistance to each other, is interpreted in this way, it’s anti-human. For some reason, such assistance was possible until May 2020, but after May it was prohibited.”
Prosecutors had sought 12 years in prison for Bialiatski, 11 years in prison for Stefanovic, and nine years for Labkovich.
All three pleaded not guilty during the court hearing.
During the trial, judges did not grant any motions (appeals for the language of the trial to be Belarusian, for the removal of handcuffs, and giving time to get acquainted with the case materials, etc.).
The human rights defenders were charged under Part 4, Art. 228 (smuggling by an organized group) and Part 2, Art. 342 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus (financing of group actions that grossly violate public order).
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