Wed. Mar 22nd, 2023

TALLINN, Estonia — A Belarusian courtroom on Friday sentenced Ales Bialiatski, Belarus’ prime human rights advocate and one of many winners of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize, to 10 years in jail.

Bialiatski and three different prime figures of the Viasna human rights heart he based had been convicted of financing actions violating public order and smuggling, Viasna reported Friday.

Valiantsin Stefanovich was given a nine-year sentence; Uladzimir Labkovicz seven years; and Dzmitry Salauyou was sentenced to eight years in jail in absentia.

Bialiatski and two of his associates had been arrested and jailed after large protests over a 2020 election that gave authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko a brand new time period in workplace. Salauyou managed to depart Belarus earlier than he was arrested.

Lukashenko, who has dominated the ex-Soviet nation with an iron fist since 1994, unleashed a brutal crackdown on the protesters, the most important within the nation’s historical past. Greater than 35,000 folks had been arrested, and 1000’s had been crushed by police.

Learn Extra: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya on Belarus’s Combat for Freedom

In the course of the trial, which happened behind closed doorways, the 60-year-old Bialiatski and his colleagues had been held in a caged enclosure within the courtroom. They’ve spent 21 months behind bars because the arrest.

Within the images from the courtroom launched Friday by Belarus’ state information company Belta, Bialiatksi, clad in black garments, regarded wan, however calm.

Viasna stated after the decision that each one 4 activists have maintained their innocence.

In his ultimate tackle to the courtroom, he urged the authorities to “cease the civil struggle in Belarus.” Bialiatski stated it grew to become apparent to him from the case recordsdata that “the investigators had been fulfilling the duty they got: to deprive Viasna human rights advocates of freedom at any value, destroy Viasna and cease our work.”

Exiled Belarusian opposition chief Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya denounced the courtroom verdict on Friday as “appalling.” “We should do every part to struggle towards this shameful injustice (and) free them,” Tsikhaouskaya wrote in a tweet.

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee, a non-governmental group working to make sure that human rights are revered in apply, stated that it was “shocked by the cynicism behind the sentences that had been simply issued to our Belarusian buddies in Minsk.”

”The trial reveals how Lukashenka’s regime punishes our colleagues, human rights defenders, for standing up towards the oppression and injustice,” Secretary Common Berit Lindeman stated in a press release.

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