“A Swiss citizen who tore a balaclava off an OMON officer’s face, got 2.5 years in prison”
Soviet regional court in Minsk imposed a sentence on Natalia Hershe, a belarusian who has been living in Switzerland for the last 12 years. The woman tore the balaclava off an OMON officer’s face at the Women’s march on September 19. After that a criminal case was initiated against her. On December 7, Natalia had her final plea. The court’s sentence is 2.5 years in a standard regime penal colony.
“I live in a democratic European country, where the democratic freedoms and principles are an essential condition for the rule at all the levels and parallels of the government. Where the freedom of expression and peaceful gatherings are defined by the Constitution and are guaranteed by the government. Where the police do not hide their faces in front of peaceful demonstrators. This is how I see my motherland, future Belarus, free Belarus”, said the accused.
Judge Sergey Shatilo ruled to settle the civil claim of the OMON officer Sergey Konchik and that he should be paid a compensation of 1000 belarusian rubles. Natalia Hershe was convicted under article 363, part II of the Criminal Code (Resistance to a Law Enforcement Officer) and was sentenced to 2.5 years in a standard regime penal colony. This penalty was asked for her by the prosecuting attorney.
The judge also ruled to destroy the white-red-white flag which was taken away from Natalia.
After the sentence was pronounced, Natalia’s relatives started shouting “Shame!” Natalia’s brother said that the lawyer is going to appeal against the sentence.
Sir Claude Altermatt, Swiss Ambassador to Belarus, who attended the trial, said that he is going to provide further assistance in the realm of consular protection, as much as possible. He’d visited Natalia three times in the detention center. They are going to further protect her as a Swiss citizen that she is.
“We deplore the court decision,” said the ambassador.
“She tore off the balaclava and damaged the uniform”
Natalia was detained on September 19, around 17 p.m. on administrative violation under article 23.34 of the Code of Administrative Offences. According to the police report, during detention Natalia did not follow the orders of the police officers to enter a special purpose vehicle, she tried to avoid the detention, and when her actions were terminated by the officer Konchik, she intentionally resisted with the following acts of force: she tried to break free, refusing the detention, she grabbed Konchik’s face and scratched it, she tore off his balaclava, damaging the uniform (ripped the balaclava), inflicted bodily harm.
The woman pleaded not guilty for participating in an unsanctioned protest and inflicting bodily harm. She admitted that she took part in a peaceful action and that she tried to take off the officer’s balaclava.
The complainant Konchik wrote a statement of claim against Natalia Hershe. The sum of the compensation for moral harm was initially stated at 100 belarusian rubles. But at the trial Konchik decided to raise the sum to 1000 belarusian rubles and in case of a positive outcome to donate the money to the RSPC of children’s oncology.