Belarusian activist stabs himself with pen while in court

Stsiapan Latypau had been in jail since September, when he was arrested during protests against president Alexander Lukashenko.

Belarus activist Stsiapan Latypau
Belarus activist Stsiapan Latypau

A Belarusian activist has stabbed himself in the neck during a court hearing in Minsk to protest political repression and authorities’ threats to prosecute his relatives.

Stsiapan Latypau used a pen to inflict the wound while he was sitting in court in a defendant’s cage on Tuesday, according to the Viasna human rights centre in Belarus.

Videos posted online showed Mr Latypau being carried out of the building in Belarus’ capital and put into an ambulance.

He was taken to hospital and put into an induced coma, Viasna said. His lawyer, Olga Batyuk, would not comment on his condition.

Before stabbing himself, Mr Latypau told his father during the court proceedings that investigators had threatened to open criminal cases against his relatives and associates if he failed to admit his guilt.

Mr Latypau faces charges of staging actions violating public order, resisting police and other alleged actions that carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

He had been in jail since September, when he was arrested during massive protests against Belarus’ authoritarian leader, president Alexander Lukashenko.

The protests were triggered by Mr Lukashenko winning a sixth term in an August election that the opposition rejected as rigged.

Authorities responded to the demonstrations with a sweeping crackdown, arresting more than 35,000 people and beating thousands.

The United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions on Lukashenko and other Belarusian officials for rigging the vote and clamping down on protests.

The US and EU introduced new sanctions last week after Belarus diverted an international flight to arrest a dissident journalist.

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