Hrodna hunger striker Ihar Bantser sentenced to 1.5 years of restriction of liberty

Ihar Bantser. Hrodna, 19 March 2021. Photo: Belsat

On March 19, a Hrodna court passed a verdict in the case of musician and activist Ihar Bantser, who had been on a dry hunger strike for 16 days.

Judge Natallya Kozel took heed of the prosecution’s demand and sentenced Bantser to 1.5 years of restriction of liberty over ‘hooliganism’. He has been released in courtroom under the written pledge not to leave the country. The court also ruled to take into account the five months he had spent in custody, one day in jail is to be equal to two days of being under the restriction of liberty. Ihar Bantser is now at large until he is sent to the place of serving the term.

The convict looks exhausted, our journalist reports.

Ihar Bantser. Hrodna, 19 March 2021. Photo: Belsat

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’).

Ihar Bantser. Hrodna, 19 March 2021. Photo: Belsat

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.

Ihar Bantser. Hrodna, 19 March 2021. Photo: Belsat

About 20 people, Ihar’s relatives and friends, came to show support for him. Several policemen were keeping a wary eye on the attendants who were banned from filming and taking photos.

“I feel great. I am going to gradually quit hungerstriking, I’ll be on soups and so on. Earlier, it used to take me about two weeks. I am very grateful to everyone for their support, solidarity, letters. Write to political prisoners, it is very important!” the activist said.

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