On December 7, Belarusian Natallia Hersche, who also holds Swiss citizenship, has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison for removing a balaclava from a riot police officer during a protest rally on September 19.
“Ms Hercshe was found guilty of ‘violent resistance to a law enforcement officer” (Art. 363, Part 2 of the Criminal Code) over an incident that happened during a women-only peaceful demonstration in central Minsk. The woman was detained, but reportedly ‘resisted arrest’, which resulted in a ‘slight damage to the mask in the area of the eye slit’ and a ‘scratch near the right eye’,” humen rights centre Viasna reports.
She will also have to pay damages (BYN 1,000) to the alleged victim, OMON special police unit member Syarhei Konchyk. The woman pleaded not guilty.
Natallia Hersche has been living in Switzerland for many years, but this year she could not remain indifferent to the events at home and flew to Minsk. At one of the women’s marches, she was detained and sentenced to 15 days in jail. Then a criminal case for resisting a police officer with the use of violence was opened.
Her last word was very impressive:
“I live in a democratic country where the rights of freedom of speech and peaceful assembly are respected, where they are clearly defined by the Constitution and guaranteed by the state. That is my vision of my homeland, a Belarus of the future. A free Belarus.”
Representatives of embassies of Switzerland and Austria attended the trial. After the verdict was announced, people in the courtroom started chanting: “Shame!“