6 May 2022 11:16

Russian citizen Sapega sentenced to 6 years in penitentiary in Belarus

MINSK. May 6 (Interfax) - The Grodno Region Court sentenced Russian citizen Sofia Sapega to six years in a penitentiary on Friday, the Belarusian Prosecutor General's Office said.

"Consistent with Part 3, Article 130 and Part 1, Article 179 of the Belarusian Criminal Code, the defendant was sentenced to six years of incarceration," the Office said.

"Sapega has been found guilty of deliberate actions aimed at inciting social enmity and discord on the basis of a different social affiliation, committed by a group of persons with grave consequences, and the illegal collection and dissemination of information about private life that constitutes a personal and family secret of another person, without the latter's consent, thus causing harm to the rights, freedoms and lawful interests of the aggrieved parties," the Office said.

The sentence has yet to take effect and can be appealed.

Sapega's sentence was earlier reported by the unregistered Belarusian human rights center Viasna. "Political prisoner Sofia Sapega has been sentenced to six years in a penitentiary," Viasna said.

For its part, the Belarusian Supreme Court said that the defendant was ordered to pay a moral compensation to the aggrieved parties in the amount totaling 167,500 Belarusian rubles (about $50,000 by the current exchange rate), and a civil action fee of 7,488 Belarusian rubles (about $2,200).

"The restrictive measure on the defendant in the form of house arrest has been replaced with incarceration," the Belarusian Supreme Court said.

Sapega is a student of European Humanities University in Vilnius, Lithuania. The plane carrying Sapega and opposition Belarusian journalist Roman Protasevich from a vacation in Greece was forced to land in Minsk on March 23, 2021, and Sapega and Protasevich were taken into custody.

Sapega was held in a detention facility belonging to the Belarusian State Security Committee at first and was then placed under house arrest on June 24, 2021. Her arrest was extended until December 25 in September 2021.

On December 20, 2021, she was indicted under seven articles of the Belarusian Criminal Code, namely, violence or a threat of violence against a law enforcement officer, interference in the activity of a law enforcement officer, violence or a threat of violence against an official in the line of duty or another person performing a public duty, incitement of hate or enmity, illegal treatment of private information and personal data, obstruction of lawful professional activities of a journalist, and threatening a judge or a juror.

Sapega's case was forwarded to court in late December 2021.

The prosecution service said that Sapegacomplied with her plea deal and took measures to return income she had earned illegally. She also appealed to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko for a pardon.