Stsiapan Latypau sentenced to 8.5 years in prison
On 16 August 2021, political prisoner Stsiapan Latypau was sentenced to 8.5 years of imprisonment in a medium-security penal colony and a fine of 8,700 Belarusian roubles (about $3,500 USD). He was charged with the organization of group actions grossly violating public order, resistance to the police, and fraud committed on an especially large scale. In court, Latypau pleaded not guilty to any of the charges and refused to testify.
Stsiapan Latypau is a resident of the Square of Changes. This symbolic name was given to one of the courtyards in Minsk where people gathered to protest against the presidential election results in Belarus in the summer of 2020 and where Raman Bandarenka was subsequently detained and beaten to death. On 15 September 2020, Stsiapan and other courtyard neighbors were defending a protest mural. Several police officers approached them, and Stsiapan asked them to identify themselves. They did not identify themselves; instead, the policemen twisted Stsiapan’s arms, wrestled him to the ground, and took him away.
During the first court hearing on 1 June 2021, the political prisoner talked about threats to his father and neighbors and unbearable torture: Latypau had been held in a so-called “press hut” for 51 days. It is a special cell where inmates create unbearable conditions to obtain a confession from other inmates. Protesting against torture, Latypau jammed a pen into his throat right in the courtroom intending to commit suicide. He was hospitalized, but immediately after surgery, he was returned to the pre-trial detention center.
Stsiapan Latypau’s talked about his detention in his closing speech in the court on 12 August 2021: “On 15 September 2020, masked men carried me into a minibus. They tied my hands behind my back, put a trash bag over my head, and took me… to the Peoples’ Friendship Park. On the way there, they had me change buses twice. But it was my neighborhood, and I knew every nook and cranny there. Then they beat me up, turned on the radio at full volume, and started beating me again. I have never been so scared in my life. People in masks were beating me with their hands, feet, and batons. All of them at once and one at a time. They twisted my arms, twisted my legs behind my back, put me in the “swallow” position, and beat me with their fists and hands on my ears so that my head exploded. They beat me on the buttocks with a truncheon, beat me so that there were no bruises left… I shouted, suffocating in a black bag, and they laughed.”
The US Embassy in Minsk condemned the harsh sentence passed today to the political prisoner Stsiapan Latypau.