Prosecution demands 1.5 years of restriction of liberty for Hrodna activist Ihar Bantser

People who come to court to show support for Ihar Bantser.

On Thursday, Leninski district court resumed hearing the case of Hrodna-based musician and activist Ihar Bantser, who has been on a dry hunger strike for 16 days.

Although Ihar lost much weight due to hungerstriking, he looked cheerful but excited.

“They want to bully me into cutting wrists, but they won’t see me doing that!” Bantser shouted when people were entering the courtroom.

Policeman Vital Kanyushka, who was to give testimony, failed to appear in court.

In the course of the trial, Ihar made a motion to substitute health workers who are examining him, but it was rejected.

“On Tuesday, the prison doctor said that if I lost consciousness, they would give me injections of narcotics, and if I did not allow to force-feed myself, they would turn me into a cabbage. I am not going to quit hungerstriking; I am filing a motion to be examined by non-prison doctors,” the defendant said.

The public prosecutor demanded Ihar Bantser be sentenced to 1,5 years of restriction of liberty. In his last plea, Ihar read out The Apology of Socrates.

The verdict is to be announced on March 19, at 10.30 am.

Musician and activist Ihar Bantser finally tried after 10 days of hunger strike

Ihar Bantser refused food and water on March 3. On that day, he stood trial; during the hearing, Ihar was holding posters with the inscriptions ‘Hunger Strike’ and ‘There Is No Justice’.

On October 20, Ihar Bantser was detained and taken into custody. The reason was one of the street performances he staged: on the night of September 5, Ihar put off his underwear and danced in front of a police car. A criminal case was opened against him under Article 339 of the Criminal Code (‘hooliganism’). If found guilty, Ihar may be sentenced to up to three years in prison.

After the arrest, the musician was placed in a one-man cell in Hrodna prison. A bit later, he was taken to the Republican Scientific and Practical Centre for Mental Health in Minsk and forced to undergo a psychiatric examination. Upon returning to the prison, he served two weeks in solitary confinement. The Hrodna resident was deprived of any contact with his relatives and friends.

In mid March, Belarusian human rights activists recognised Ihar Bantser as a political prisoner.

Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya urges political prisoners to end their hunger strikes