Mon, May 16, 2011 - Page 6 News List

Belarus opposition leader given five years

JUDICIAL MISCONDUCT:Of the nine opposition candidates who ran in the presdiential election, five face jail over their protests. Andrei Sannikov was the first to be sentenced

AFP, MINSK

In an impassioned final address to the court, Sannikov had vowed that one day Belarus would be free and then its current rulers would be the ones standing trial.

“Dec. 19 was not just an act of protest but an act of hope. We just want one thing — to live in our country, to vote in clean elections and not fear for our lives and those of our loved ones. I want to warn all those who neglect the law that one day you will be the accused and be punished,” he said.

In a human drama that attracted global attention, the authorities at one point sought to take custody of Sannikov’s son from Khalip’s family before backing off.

Khalip was released, but remains under house arrest in their apartment where two security agents are now permanently based, and is forbidden to contact her husband.

She left home for the first time last week to attend her own trial, where prosecutors are demanding that she be given a two-year suspended sentence.

Twenty-seven people have now been convicted in post--election trials, of whom 22 were given jail terms.

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