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Prisoner swallows “metallic objects” to protest torture

2021 2021-06-09T18:35:01+0300 2021-06-09T18:35:02+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Artsiom Anishchuk

Artsiom Anishchuk

Artsiom Anishchuk swallowed several metallic objects to avoid “physical and psychological violence” he has been subjected to during his stay at penal colony No. 15 in Mahilioŭ, said quoting the inmate’s lawyer, who managed to see his client for the first time since May 13.

Anishchuk told the lawyer that the harassment has never stopped since his arrival at the penitentiary on April 17.

“As a result, my husband attempted self-maiming. He swallowed metallic objects in order to avoid further torture. Also, from May 13, the prison authorities have not allowed him to meet with his lawyer. They do not give him a pen or paper, force him to sign waivers of counsel, and also make him to write letters to relatives telling that everything is fine. In fact, everything written was dictated by the colony administration. In addition, he was involved in “interrogations” without an investigator, but with the presence of four unauthorized people in the room (most likely, special services),” Anishchuk’s wife Volha said.

According to her, the lawyer was only allowed to see her husband four weeks after he started serving his term. During all this time, he was tortured, the woman said.

Artsiom Anishchuk says that the prison staff targeted him because prison warden is a friend of Aliaksandr Heits’s, a police officer named as the victim in the trial that landed Artsiom in prison for 2 years.

“Obviously, the warden is hostile towards my husband and uses torture out of personal revenge. My husband did not violate the prison rules, but was immediately placed in a PKT (“cell-type room”, prison inside prison) and then in a punishment cell for 10 days. Now he is in a PKT again,” the prisoner’s wife said.

“The warden said: either he chooses Article 411 (criminal charges for disobeying prison rules carrying additional term of imprisonment) or attacking a colony employee. He chose Article 411 under the threat of violence against him and his family,” Volha said.

Artsiom Anishchuk was detained together with four other persons on September 29, 2020. They were accused of damaging the car of a police officer’s wife. In particular, they punctured the tires, sealed a door with construction foam and poured paint on the vehicle.

On February 3, 2021, Judge Viktar Shautsou sentenced the five defendants to terms of imprisonment ranging between 2 and 6 years.