24 and 18 months in prison: court convicts political prisoners Safiya Malashevich and Tsikhan Kliukach
Political prisoners Safiya Malashevich and Tsikhan Kliukach were sentenced today to 2 years and 1 ½ years, respectively, in a general security penal colony. Judge Volha Niaborskaya of the Kastryčnicki District Court of Minsk found them guilty on all counts. The terms in prison were earlier requested by the prosecutor.
The defendants, both 18, were accused of spray-painting political slogans on the metal shields of riot control vehicles during a protest on September 6 (Part 2 of Article 339 of the Criminal Code) and participating in actions that grossly violated public order (Article 342 of the Criminal Code). Malashevich faced an additional charge of public insult to the President (Article 368 of the Criminal Code).
During the trial, the prosecution dropped the vandalism charges against Tsikhan Kliukach.
The prosecution also changed Malashevich’s initial indictment, reclassifying it to Part 1 of Art. 339.
A soldier of the internal troops who spoke at the trial as a witness for the prosecution said that he saw Safiya during the protest.
“She was dancing because she thought there were a lot of people and she would escape punishment,” the witness said.
Kliukach’s lawyer noted his “youthful maximalism” as a response to social injustice, while Malashevich’s counsel said the teenagers should not be imprisoned for their words and expressions.