The trial of 38-year-old political prisoner Volha Zalatar is to start in Minsk City Court on November 15, human rights activists report. The mother of five has been behind bars for over 7 months.
She is charged with ‘organisation of actions that grossly violate public order, and training such actions’ (Article 342 of the Criminal Code) and ‘establishing an extrmist formation’ (Art. 361-1). If found guilty under these articles, the woman might be sentenced to up to 7 years of imprisonment.
The case will be considered by judge Anastasiya Papko.
Volha Zalatar was detained on March 18 when she was taking her daughter to a music school. The law enforcers stopped her car and took her home to conduct a search. After the search Volha was first taken to the local police station, then she was placed in temporary detention, and the next day she was taken to detention centre Nr 1 in Minsk.
In early April, her defence lawyer Andrey Machalau said that after detention his client was tortured by officers of the Main Directorate for Combating Organised Crime and Corruption (GUBAZiK/GUBOPiK).
“At first they beat her on the head with their hands, then started strangling her, threw her on the ground and started pressing her head with a boot to the floor. I personally saw bruises on her arms and neck and bruises on her buttocks,” he said.
Notably, the Belarusian authorities stripped the lawyer of his licence on the back of the situation.
Volha Zalatar was then accused under the above mentioned articles. Volha did not admit her guilt. She believes that she was charged with ‘an absurd crime’. On April 2, the Belarusian human rights community recognised her as a political prisoner.