WORLD – BELARUS
15min reports that the trial of the three founders of the opposition media platform NEXTA, which gained notoriety during the unprecedented 2020 protests, began in Belarus on Thursday.
Roman Protasevich was detained on 23 May 2021 together with his then-partner Sofia Sapieha. The detention occurred after their passenger plane, flying from Athens to Vilnius, received a bomb threat and was forced to land at Minsk national airport.
Video “confessions” of Mr Protasevich and Ms Sapega were later published in Belarus, but opposition supporters claim that the testimony was obtained under pressure.
The defendant Protasevich has now entered into a pre-trial agreement and is under house arrest. The other defendants, Stepan Putilo and Jan Rudik, who live abroad, will be tried in absentia.
The activists are accused of inciting hatred, insulting the president and participating in “mass violent disorder”. The latter charge carries a possible sentence of 15 years in prison.
Sofia Sapega was sentenced to six years in prison last June.