Imprisoned punk rocker Ihar Bantsar to spend remainder of term in penal colony
On September 29, the Čyhunačny District Court of Viciebsk sentenced political prisoner Ihar Bantsar to 1 month and 25 days in a penal colony, thus replacing his initial sentence of restricted freedom in an open penitentiary (“khimiya”), RFE/RL’s Belarus service said. The decision was taken in response to a request by the administration of correctional facility No. 9 in Viciebsk, where the man had already served three and a half months.
The closed trial was held in the building of the open correctional facility. Judge Aleksiyenka found Bantsar guilty of violating the rules of serving his sentence of “khimiya”.
The penitentiary officials argue that Bantsar committed six violations, including falling asleep while sitting on a chair, failure to shave and not obeying the lights-out order. The administration believes that this is enough to replace Bantsar’s restriction of liberty with imprisonment. Ihar considers the claims to be political pressure.
“I refused to sign a request for pardon. I will not endure a third hunger strike, but I cannot guarantee that it will not take place,” Bantsar said ahead of the trial.
Ihar Bantsar is a punk musician and an activist based in Hrodna.
He was detained in October 2020 for dancing without pants in front of a police car. Bantsar said the dance was an artistic act. The authorities viewed this as “hooliganism”.
During his time in the penitentiary in Viciebsk, Bantsar was subjected to immense physical and psychological pressure. In particular, he spent 40 days in a punishment cell. To protest the pressure, he declared a hunger strike. Earlier, Bantsar was on hunger strike when he was awaiting trial in a pre-trial prison in Hrodna.