On July 14, a verdict of guilty was passed in the case of underage political prisoner Mikita Zalatarou. This time he was accused of using violence against an officer of the pre-trial detention centre and threatening another employee and her family.
A Homiel court has sentenced him to 1.5 years of imprisonment, the portal Silnye Novosti reports.
The defendant admitted his guilt, but according to him, ‘it was not violence, but resistance’; he claims that he voiced threats in a state of emotional conflict, with no intention to carry them out.
Mikita Zalatarou calls what happened in the pre-trial detention centre ‘provocations’, i.e. his being kept alone in a cell; the prison authorities’ providing him with wrong medicines; physical coercion. According to Mikita, the reason for mistreatment is his ‘political’ status.
“Please do not punish me severely. I want to make an apology to the victims; I just failed to cope with my emotions. I am asking the court to leave the term unchanged,” the minor said in his last plea.
Public prosecutor Raman Hramyka demanded Mikita Zalatarou get another 2 years of imprisonment for him; judge Viktar Kazachok has partially taken heed of the demand and given a 18-month term. In addition, the defendant will have to pay off 500 Belarusian rubles of ‘emotional distress’ damages to each of the two injured.
In late February, Mikita Zalatarou (he was 16 at that moment) was sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment in a correctional colony for ‘violence against an internal affairs officer’, ‘illegal actions with flammable substances’, and ‘organizing mass riots’. The teenager was detained on August 11, 2020; in accordance with the investigators’ version, he threw Molotov cocktails at the military. Mikita pleaded not guilty.
Mikita Zalatarou suffers from epilepsy. The young man and his father say that Mikita was beaten in the both police station and pre-trial detention centre in August and late December. In turn, the officials claimed the internal check showed no elements of the violence against the arrestee. The prison authorities also refused to provide him with anti-epileptic drugs, Mikita said.
The Belarusian human rights authorities recognised Mikita Zalatarou as a political prisoner; Amnesty International called on the Belarusian authorities to immediately release the young man.