Amnesty International urges Belarus regime to release minor sentenced to 5 years in jail

Mikhail Zalatarou shows photo of son Mikita. Homiel, 8 April 2021. Photo: AB / Belsat

In mid April, the Amnesty International human right watchdog issued a statement on the case of 17-year-old Belarusian citizen Mikita Zalatarou.

On 22 February 2021, Zalatarou, a resident of the Belarusian city of Homiel, was sentenced to five years in a correctional colony after a trial marred with irregularities, for allegedly ‘organising mass disorder’ and having thrown a molotov cocktail at the feet of two riot policemen, AI stressed. He was convicted and sentenced alongside two adults; the appeal hearing is on 23 April.

„During the investigation and trial, the Belarusian authorities have disregarded his right not to be subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, and his fair trial rights. He was beaten on arrest and during detention with an electric shock baton, and police officers interrogated him in the absence of a lawyer or a responsible adult. Furthermore, he has been held in pre-trial detention for over six months and is currently in solitary confinement – a violation of human rights standards regarding the treatment of children in detention. Mikita Zalatarou was 16 years old at the time of the alleged offence and has epilepsy,” the statement reads.

As Belsat reported earlier, the officials claim the internal check showed no elements of the violence against the arrestee. According to Mikita, the prison authorities also refused to provide him with anti-epileptic drugs.

Amnesty International is calling on the Belarusian authorities to release the young man immediately pending his appeal.

Amnesty International: Belarus authorities targeting minors to clamp down on dissent