Political prisoner Stsiapan Latypau sentenced to heavy term in mock trial
Stsiapan Latypau, a 41-year-old political prisoner, was convicted today by the Saviecki District Court of Minsk. Judge Aliaksandr Volk found Latypau guilty under three articles of the Criminal Code: Parts 1 and 2 of Art. 342, Part 2 of Art. 363, and Part 4 of Art. 209.
He was sentenced to eight and a half years in a medium-security penal colony and a fine of 8,700 rubles (USD 3,500).
Latypau was accused of running a local community Telegram chat, a workshop for making protest symbols, and resisting police officers during his arrest on September 15. In addition, as the director of Belarbo, an urban forestry consulting company, he was found guilty of misleading customers to force them purchase plant protection chemicals and services. All the witnesses, however, confirmed that the services provided were professional and timely.
Stsiapan Latypau pleaded not guilty and refused to testify in court.
The charges described as groundless by the defense lawyer included “creating a neighborhood community in order to publicly express their socio-political views and protest”, “organizing meetings”, “drawing pictures” and “triggering a protest mood among citizens.”
The lawyer said that the case should be dismissed, since Latypau’s phone was tapped illegally and unreasonably since June 2020.
According to the counsel, the “violent resistance” charge is absurd since none of the police officers described themselves as victims. When answering questions in court, they gave clear answers that no damage was done to them, no one tried to hit or insult them. Moreover, their testimonies contradicted the circumstances set out in the indictment. None of them filed a lawsuit because they were not physically or morally harmed, the lawyers stressed.
Latypau was brought to court on June 1 with obvious signs of violence, and soon he told about the so-called “press-khata” (cell used by the prison authorities to force prisoners confess). After saying this, Stsiapan tried to kill himself in front of all those present in the courtroom. Sitting in a cage, he stabbed his neck with a pen. The trial was adjourned, and the man was taken to hospital, where he underwent surgery. On the same night, security officers took Latypau back to the pre-trial detention center in Valadarski Street.
On August 12, he delivered a powerful last speech in which he told about his family, the great-grandfather repressed in 1937, how he was beaten by security forces and how he was preparing to commit suicide.