14 December 2018, Friday, 21:15
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Political Prisoner Sviataslau Baranovich Tells About Tortures In Colony

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SVIATASLAU BARANOVICH

During trial, he honestly revealed some details of how he was repeatedly penalized with 10 days of punitive confinement.

Last Friday, on November 5, a court trial was held over the complaints of Sviataslau Baranovich, convicted for “using violence against a policeman” against disciplinary measures imposed on him, at the territory of penal colony #1 in Navapolatsk. The court rejected all his complaints in full, writes human rights center "Viasna".

In mid-October, Baranovich’s sister Natallia became aware that the court would consider the issue of changing the punishment regime for him. The reason is a large number of disciplinary sanctions, which Baranovich receives regularly, starting from the first days of being in the penal colony #1. After the first meeting, Baranovich’s sister learned from his lawyer that for four and a half months spent in the colony, her brother spent only about two weeks in the detachment. The rest of the time passed in the punitive confinement and the cell-type premises.

For example, the last 10 days of punitive confinement he received on October 23 for allegedly stealing a spoon and eating with it during a meal. In early September, the head of the colony explained the reasons for other penalties imposed on Baranovich to his sister: “He doesn’t wash himself, he doesn’t shave, he doesn’t keep himself in proper sanitary condition, and refuses to clean up and follow the internal regime regulations”.

Sviataslau fundamentally disagrees with these penalties and, with the help of a lawyer, decided to appeal against 15 of them - punishments in the form of punitive confinement and reprimands.

At the court hearing on November 5, where his complaints were considered, he honestly revealed some details of how he had been in punitive confinement for 10 days just over and over again.

According to Baranovich, psychological pressure was put on him by the administration and staff of the colony. For example, on one of those rare days when he was in a detachment, the commander of another detachment approached him and said something like: "Do you want to live here normally? Then admit guilt for each of your violations!"

However, Sviataslau did not consider it necessary to admit guilt for what he didn’t do, or what he could easily correct. So, one of the penalties was received by him for not having shaved. Sviataslau claims that he always shaved. But the fact is, according to Baranovich, that the administration could always find something to complain about. They did not hide their prejudice.

“Once, when they (representatives of the administration) came into the cell, they simply said that they didn’t care whether I shaved or not, cleaned the premises or not. They said they would find faults anyway, for which I would be brought to disciplinary responsibility,” Baranovich said at the trial.

Also, even if there was a minor violation, Baranovich asked for an opportunity to rectify the situation, but the administration refused to go halfway. So, he received one of the penalties for a spider's web that was not cleaned off the window, but he was physically unable to reach it. Baranovich asked the representatives of the colony to give him at least some kind of tool that would help to reach the web, but they ignored his requests.

Sviataslau said that out of 15 penalties he pleaded guilty to only four, and then only because of pressure from the administration. In other cases, he refused to admit guilt, and then, according to him, torture began. He was put in a splitting stretcher position a meter away from the wall, beaten on the legs, sometimes to bruises, searched. He considers this to be nothing more than cruel and inhuman treatment.

The representative of colony #1 at the trial, of course, denied all violations, said that all penalties were fair, and Judge Sniazhana Kalinichenka predictably took the side of the colony. The decision was to decline the complaints about the abolition of disciplinary actions in full.

Soon, Sviataslau Baranovich is waiting for a new court session, where the consideration of the case on changing the sentence serving regime to a tougher one will continue.

Important to note, on March 15, 2017, when the “Non-Parasites March” took place in Minsk, the police officers in plain clothes attempted to detain some masked participants of the action when they were getting into a trolley bus.

The fight began. Baranovich was detained in early October and placed in custody to the remand prison # 1 in Minsk. He was charged with “using violence against an employee of the internal affairs bodies” (Article 364 of the Criminal Code). On February 15, 2018, the trial over this criminal case began in the court of the Maskouski district of Minsk.

Prosecutor Serhiyenka requested four years of imprisonment for the activist. On March 12, Baranovich was sentenced to 3 years in prison. He appealed the verdict, but the board of the Minsk city court dismissed the appeal.