Judge Maryna Zapasnik of the Lieninski District Court of Minsk decided that the guilt of human rights defenders of “smuggling by an organized group” under Part 4 Article 228 of the Criminal Code and “financing of group actions grossly violating the public order” under Part 2 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code has been fully proven.
She assigned the following terms to the Viasna leaders:
Viasna chair and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski received 10 years in a medium-security penal colony
Viasna deputy chair and vice-president of FIDH Valiantsin Stefanovic received 9 years in a medium-security penal colony
Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections campaign coordinator Uladzimir Labkovich received 7 years in a medium-security penal colony
human rights defender Zmitser Salauyou was sentenced to 8 years in a penal colony (in absentia)
The sentences imposed are two years less than those requested by prosecutor Aliaksandr Karol. Each defendant was also fined 185,000 Belarusian rubles (approx. $73,200). The verdict has not come into force yet, human rights activists can appeal it.
During the pronouncement of the verdict, the human rights defenders stayed handcuffed with their arms twisted behind their backs. Previously all of them pleaded not guilty.
On the eve of the sentencing, 21 international human rights organizations released a statement demanding the release of human rights defenders and the dropping of all charges against them.
Solidarity actions are taking place abroad today to protest the unlawful conviction and criminalization of human rights defense activities in Belarus.