Minsk protester Stsyapan Latypau tries to cut throat in court. He reports torture, threats in jail

On Tuesday afternoon, political prisoner Stsyapan Latypau made a suicide attempt in Savetski district court of Minsk, where his case was being heard today.

According to human rights centre Viasna, Latypau stood on the bench so that guards could not get him, then he pierced his throat with a pen. The defendant lost consciousness, the paramedic immediately took him out of the court building. The victim has been admitted to hospital Nr 9; he is reported to be put under induced coma.

Shortly before the grave incident, Stsyapan Latypau said in court that the representatives of the Main Directorate for Organised Crime and Corruption (GUBOPiK/GUBAZiK) visited him in jail and threatened that criminal cases would be initiated against his family, neighbours if he failed to plead guilty during the trial. They also said his relatives might face pressure and even torture if they landed up in prison.

Since April 11, the political prisoner has been kept in punitive confinement, his cellmates are people with mental disabilities, his father told Viasna. According to Stsyapan Latypau, he has spent 51 days in the so called ‘pressure house’, i.e. in a cell where prisoners who collaborate with the authorities create unbearable conditions for any arrestee whom the prison administration points the finger at. Those who have seen Stsyapan in court say he looks like as if he was badly beaten.

The trial of Stsyapan Latypau, a defender of the improvised Square of Change in Minsk, kicked off on on June 1. Latypau is a 41-year-old arborist (a tree surgeon) and industrial climber, the director of the Belarbo company; he resided in a block of flats on Smarhouski Trakt Street.

Belarusian uniformed services arrested him on September 15 in the the Square of Change (it is the place from which the murdered protester Raman Bandarenka was abducted in November). Stsyapan’s only ‘fault’ was the fact that he politely asked the officers to introduce themselves and show their IDs; his place was searched on the same day. At first, Stsyapan Latypau was accused of ‘planning to poison the security forces’, but later, the authorities ‘forgot’ about the charge and started to try Stsyapan for ‘organising actions that grossly violate public order’, ‘showing resistance when being detained’ and ‘fraud on a particularly large scale’. The Belarusian human rights community recognised him as a political prisoner.

During Tuesday’s hearing, he had visible signs of blows.

(UPD) Stsyapan Latypau has undergone an operation at Minsk Centre for Surgery, Transplantology and Hematology. His vital organs have not been hurt, White Coats Telegram channel reports. Stsyapan‘s condition is satisfactory, but he is still under anesthesia and on a lung ventilator.

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