Belarus prosecutors seek prison term for opposition protest leader

[JURIST] Belarus prosecutors have requested a six-to-10-year sentence for opposition politician Alexander Kozulin [CFR profile and interview], who in March led what prosecutors say were unauthorized protests [JURIST report] over the controversial re-election [JURIST report] of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko [official website; BBC profile]. Prosecutors in the case said Wednesday that Kozulin's "guilt as a person dangerous to society is now fully established," while Kozulin was denied an opportunity to speak at the hearing, a court decision his lawyers derided as demonstrative of the lack of judicial independence in Belarus.

Over 600 protesters have been charged and 150 have received jail sentences in connection with demonstrating against the landslide re-election of President Lukashenko [JURIST reports]. An independent report called the elections severely flawed [JURIST report], and the European Union in April approved travel bans [PDF press release; JURIST report] on Lukashenko and 30 other top government officials in response to the government crackdown. AP has more.

5:57 PM ET - Kozulin's lawyer said Thursday that the opposition leader received a five-and-a-half year jail sentence, but that Kozulin was not in court when the sentence was handed down. Kozulin was removed from the courtroom after calling the trial "unfair" and labeling the judge an "executioner." AP has more.



 

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