Swiss woman sentenced to 30 months in prison in Belarus

Belarusian police block a street during an opposition rally in Minsk in October to protest against the official presidential election results Keystone

A Swiss-Belarusian dual citizen has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison in Minsk. The 51-year-old woman was arrested at a women’s rally in the Belarus capital on September 19.

This content was published on December 7, 2020

The Libereco human rights organisation announced on Monday afternoon the verdict against the woman “for her unintentional reaction” when she was arrested. According to Libereco, “during her violent arrest, she pulled the mask off the face of a security guard who was not identified as such, in mortal fear, and scratched him”.

The Swiss foreign ministry has also confirmed the verdict. The ministry will now, “together with [the woman’s] lawyer, evaluate the next steps”, it said in a statement. The woman, from St Gallen in northeastern Switzerland, would continue to receive consular protection, it said.

The Swiss ambassador in Minsk, Claude Altermatt, had visited the woman in prison.

“Given the fact that [the woman] was arbitrarily detained and tried, as were more than 150 other political prisoners in Belarus, it was feared that the sentence would be equally arbitrary,” said Libereco, a German-Swiss NGO dedicated to the protection of human rights in Belarus and Ukraine.

‘Political prisoner’

Libereco president Lars Bünger said they were shocked by Monday’s verdict. “We consider [the woman] a political prisoner and hostage of the Lukashenko regime. We now expect Foreign Minister Cassis and President Sommaruga to react vigorously against the Lukashenko regime,” he said.

“The government as a whole should also immediately impose sanctions on Lukashenko personally and freeze all accounts attributable to him, his family and associates in Switzerland.”

In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

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