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Belarusian activist sentenced after stabbing himself in court, say rights group

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By Euronews
Stsiapan Latypau was given a detention sentence of 8.5 years, according to Viasna.
Stsiapan Latypau was given a detention sentence of 8.5 years, according to Viasna.   -   Copyright  AP Photo

A Belarusian activist who stabbed himself in court has been convicted after his trial resumed, a rights group has said.

Stsiapan Latypau was rushed to hospital in June after cutting himself in the neck with a pen during his hearing in Minsk.

According to Viasna human rights centre in Belarus, the 41-year old had attempted to commit suicide to protest political repression, following pressure in detention and threats to prosecute his relatives.

Latypau was arrested last September during an intense crackdown on opposition protestors in Belarus, charged with organising riots, resisting arrest, and fraud.

After receiving treatment, his trial was resumed on Monday, according to Viasna.

The group says that Latypau was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in detention and fined 8,700 Belarusian rubles (around €3,000).

Stsiapan Latypau pleaded not guilty and refused to testify in court, Viasna added.

"Latypau was accused of running a local community Telegram chat, a workshop for making protest symbols, and resisting police officers during his arrest on September 15," Viasna said in a statement.

The human rights centre also said in June that Latypau had arrived at the court in Minsk with "!obvious signs of violence." A senior advisor to Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya also said Latypau was subjected to torture while in detention.

"I am proud of Stsiapan's courage and strength," Tsikhanouskaya tweeted on Monday.

"Every day we fight in all ways possible to release and rehabilitate people imprisoned on political grounds in Belarus as soon as possible."

The protest movement began in August 2020 when President Alexander Lukashenko claimed a disputed victory in the election polls.

Lukashenko’s government has harshly repressed post-election protests, and more than 35,000 people have been detained in the last year, according to human rights groups.