Prosecution requests 12-year sentence for Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski
On January 9, the Lieninski District Court of Minsk started to hear the closing arguments in Viasna trial. The prosecution is seeking to sentence the Nobel Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski to 12 years in a penal colony.
Four human rights defenders are being tried: the Viasna chairman and Nobel Peace prize laureate Ales Bialiatski, his deputy Valiantsin Stefanovich, and the Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections campaign coordinator Uladzimir Labkovich are in the dock while Zmitser Salauyou, who had to leave Belarus, will be tried in absentia. They are charged with “smuggling by an organized group” under Part 4 Article 228 of the Criminal Code and “financing of group actions grossly violating the public order” under Part 2 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code.
State prosecutor Aliaksandr Karol claims that the guilt of human rights defenders of smuggling by an organized group under Part 4 Article 228 of the Criminal Code and financing of group actions grossly violating the public order under Part 2 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code has been fully proven. He has requested the following sentences Viasna leadership:
- Viasna chair and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski—12 years in a medium-security penal colony
- Viasna deputy chair and vice-president of FIDH Valiantsin Stefanovic—11 years in a medium-security penal colony
- Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections campaign coordinator Uladzimir Labkovich—9 years in a medium-security penal colony
- human rights defender Zmitser Salauyou—10 years in a medium-security penal colony (in absentia)
The prosecutor also asks the court to order a fine of 185,000 Belarusian rubles (approx. $73,200) to each of the defendants.
UPDATE: The first version of this article falsely stated that the prosecution asked for 5,000 rubles in fines for the defendants. We apologize for the inaccuracy.