On September 13, the Belarusian prosecutor’s office filed two new charges against a mother of five children, a Catholic, who has been imprisoned since March 18 of this year. She was accused of forming an extremist group.
Volha Zalatar is 39 years old and has a sociology degree. She has five children, the eldest of whom is almost adult and the youngest five years old. The political prisoner is a devout Catholic and was an active participant in social protests, following the presidential elections. She was also a volunteer who assisted the families of those arrested and released behind the walls of Minsk’s detention center. She also personally attended protesters’ trials, assisting them in writing complaints and appeals.
The defendant will not be able to answer on a free footing as a result of the court’s decision, and her defense lawyers have learned that two additional charges have been filed against her. The prosecution accuses her of organizing actions that were grossly in violation of public, for what she may spend many years in prison as the maximum sentence for the first charge alone is five years.
She was stopped by police while driving her daughter to lessons and search was conducted in her apartment. According to her husband, the officers hung a white-red-white flag in the window to obtain evidence against her, qualified as evidence of the crime by the Minsk militia.
According to the detainee’s lawyer, officers from the notorious Main Department for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption (HUBAZiK) beat the woman, strangled her, and pressed her head against the ground with a shoe in order to extract a confession. During a meeting with a lawyer, the woman was said to have shown him evidence of torture. The authorities did not respond to requests for medical examinations or punishment of those who used illegal investigative methods. Her husband was also detained for 10 days on the same day.