Ahead of the appeal hearing of Mikita Zalatarou, a 17-year-old Belarusian protester who was sentenced to five years in a corrective colony in a trial marred with irregularities, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said:
“Mikita Zalatarou’s case is another stark reminder of the violence that awaits people in Belarus, including minors, when they come face to face with this repressive state. He was beaten on arrest and during detention with an electric shock baton. He was held in pre-trial detention for over six months and is currently in solitary confinement – which for minors amounts to torture or other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Mikita has had no access to education for the past seven months.
“We call for Mikita Zalatarou’s immediate release pending the outcome of the appeal hearing and we demand that his right to a fair trial is fully respected, as well as his rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
Mikita Zalatarou, who was 16 years old at the time of the alleged offence, was arrested on 11 August 2020 on charges under Article 293 Part 1 of the Belarusian Criminal Code (“organization of mass disorder”), and Article 295 of the Criminal Code (“illegal activities involving munitions, armaments or explosives”). Amnesty International had raised its concerns about this case in a recent public statement.
On 22 February 2021, the Zheleznodorozhny District Court of Homel sentenced Mikita Zalatarou to five years in a correctional colony, a penitentiary institution for underaged inmates. His appeal hearing is scheduled for 23 April and will take place in Homel Regional Court.