March 3, 2023

Belarus sentences Nobel Laureate, Ales Bialiatski to 10-yr imprisonment

Belarus sentences Nobel Laureate, Ales Bialiatski to 10-yr imprisonment

By Biodun Busari

A Belarusian court on Friday sentenced Nobel Peace Prize winner and human rights activist Ales Bialiatski to 10 years in prison after finding him guilty of bankrolling protests.

The European Union condemned the trial describing it as a “sham”, according to a report by Reuters.

The 60-year-old Bialiatski was awarded the Nobel Prize last year October for his work that tremendously promoted human rights and democracy in the European country.

He is a critic of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, a staunch ally of Russia, who has ruled for nearly 30 years, and violently locking up his opponents or forcing them to flee.

Reuters said footage from the overcrowded Minsk court showed Bialiatski, who co-founded the Viasna (Spring) human rights group, looking sombre, with his hands cuffed behind his back.

He and his co-defendants charged also for smuggling money watched proceedings from a courtroom cage.

Bialiatski, who was arrested in 2021, alongside his three co-defendants were handed down long jail sentences including a decade in prison for Bialiatski.

He denied the charges against him, saying they were politically motivated.

Exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said Bialiatski and the three other activists had been unfairly convicted, describing the court verdict as “appalling”.

“We must do everything to fight against this shameful injustice and free them,” she said on Twitter.

The other three men convicted were Valentin Stefanovich, sentenced to nine years, Vladimir Labkovich, who got seven years, and Dmitry Solovyov, who received eight years but was not present in court.