Appeal hearing halves sentence for anarchists Yemialiyanau and Komar
The Minsk City Court has commuted the 7-year prison sentence earlier imposed on anarchists Mikita Yemialiyanau and Ivan Komar. The new terms are 4 years for Yemialiyanau and 3 ½ years for Komar, the appeal court concluded.
The convicts were not present at the hearing.
On February 12, the two activists, both 19 year old, were convicted of vandalizing the city court building and throwing a Molotov cocktail at the door of the pre-trial prison in central Minsk. The defendants argued that it was their protest against the systemic persecution of Belarusian anarchists.
The country’s leading human rights organizations called Yemialiyanau and Komar political prisoners and their sentence clearly excessive. The human rights defenders also stressed that one of the defendants, Ivan Komar, was forced to incriminated himself, and later withdrew his testimony during the trial.
“The punishment is still disproportionately harsh, both in its nature and length. Therefore, Belarusian human rights defenders will not change their findings on the sentence and the human rights community will still treat Yemialiyanau and Komar as political prisoners and demand a revision of the verdict,” Viasna’s expert Pavel Sapelka said in a comment.