A Belarusian prisoner held in a crackdown on protests last year attempted to slit his throat during a court hearing today after learning that his family and neighbors would stand trial if he did not plead guilty, according to media, activists and a witness.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Latvian footage showed Stepan Latipov, 41, lying on a wooden bench inside a prisoner’s cage in a courtroom in the capital, Minsk, with police officers standing around him screaming at observers.
A second video showed Latypov being taken to an ambulance with what appeared to be bloodstains on his shirt. Local media and the Belarusian human rights group Viasna-96 said he is alive.
Sergei, Latibov’s father, appeared in court as a witness on Tuesday, according to Vyasna-96 and Irina, Latibov’s friend.
Latypov addressed his father in court, saying that he had been held in a torture cell for 51 days and warning him of a similar fate. He then hit himself in the neck with a pen-like instrument, Viasna-96 reported.
“Steban got up, took off his mask and told me: Dad, the police told me that I would call the confinement cell and that my relatives and neighbors would be prosecuted under the criminal law if I did not confess” Irina told RFE / RL
Then “he grabbed something white in his teeth and literally started cutting his neck. Everyone started screaming. The cops couldn’t open the defendant’s cage for a while. He lost consciousness, and we were taken out of the courtroom.”
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