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Political prisoner Andrei Papou sentenced to five years in prison

2021 2021-02-16T15:58:23+0300 2021-02-16T15:59:32+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Andrei Papou

Andrei Papou

Judge Anzhela Kastsiukevich of the Zavodski District Court of Minsk has sentenced political prisoner Andrei Papou to five years in a medium-security penal colony, finding him guilty under Part 2 of Article 293 of the Criminal Code (rioting).

Initially, Papou was charged under Art. 364 (violence or threat of violence against a police officer), but the prosecution eventually dropped the charge, after the alleged victim was not identified.

Andrei Papou was wounded during the post-election protest on August 9. He was detained and spent three days in the detention center in Žodzina, after which he was released. Andrei was detained again on September 1 to face “rioting” charges.

The political prisoner said that he joined the protest because he did not agree with the expulsion of observers and the inflated voter turnout. He pleaded not guilty under Part 2 of Article 293, saying that his involvement in the protest was peaceful. Papou partially admitted his guilt under Art. 364, namely the fact of using violence against one police officer. He noted that he regretted using violence.

During the final court session on February 16, the defendant’s lawyer stressed that none of the videos examined in court was relevant to the case. Andrei Papou confirmed that he was in the videos, but none of them actually proved his aggression towards law enforcement officers.

The alleged victim never appeared in court. The prosecution failed to provide any evidence of the actions described in the arrest report.

During the debates, the prosecutor pointed out that Papou confirmed his identity on video. The official said that raising fists and legs in an attempt to hit the officers was proof of violence, but chose to drop the charge under Article 364.

The lawyer completely disagreed, saying that there was no evidence of calls for riots and no proof of rioting taking place, in particular with the participation of her client. The defender stresses that that the punishment is excessive even considering the current stringent policies of the government towards post-election protesters.

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