On September 8, a Homiel court passed a guilty verdict in the case of 46-year-old Illya Hapon, human rights centre Viasna reports.
The man was charged under Article 130-1 of the Criminal Code (‘inciting hatred’) on the back of his posting statements about the post-election situation, including the need to take a stand against the police, in an open Telegram chat on 11 September 2020. According to him, the Belarusians should have shown resistance to the security forces by attacking them at night and beating them with sticks.
According to the expert opinion, this statement was ‘inciting’, it called for violent actions of one group of persons against representatives of a certain professional community.
Judge Ruslan Tsaruk took heed of public prosecutor Yury Mokharau’s demand and sentenced Illya Hapon to three years of imprisonment in a minimum-security penal colony.
On 9 August, numerous protest rallies started throughout Belarus on the back of announcing the preliminary results of the 2020 presidential election; the major demands of Belarusians were Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s resignation; holding a free and fair election; releasing political prisoners; putting an end to police violence as well as bringing to justice those involved in battering and torturing peaceful demonstrators. About 35,000 people have been detained as part of administrative and criminal cases; there are several deaths that are linked to the post-election protests. As of today, over 660 persons have been recognised as political prisoners by the Belarusian human rights community.
According to the Amnesty International organisation, the Belarusian authorities admitted receiving some 900 complaints of abuse by police in connection with the protests, but by the end of 2020, not a single criminal investigation had been opened, nor had any law enforcement officer been charged with respective violations.