Belarus: complaint in Germany for “torture” against the Lukashenko regime

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Berlin | Ten opponents of the regime of Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko have filed a complaint in Germany for alleged acts of systematic “torture”, announced Wednesday the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office.

The complainants are targeting the severe police repression unleashed in the summer of 2020 by the Belarusian regime after the contested re-election of Mr. Lukashenko.

According to them, it is akin to acts of “state torture”, potentially liable to prosecution by the German courts within the framework of its universal jurisdiction for crimes against humanity and systematic repressive policies.

President Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus without division since 1994, has been confronted for months with a historic protest movement after his re-election was deemed fraudulent last August.

It rallied tens of thousands of people on numerous occasions in the streets of Minsk and other cities before gradually running out of steam in the face of constant repression from the authorities. Most of the opposition figures have been imprisoned or forced into exile.

“The Belarusian state power has responded with massive and unprecedented violence, systematic torture and other abuses”, to the demonstrations launched on August 9 by the opposition after the contested re-election of Mr. Lukashenko, deplore the lawyers of the complainants in a press release.

“Since then, the government in place ruthlessly represses its own civilian population,” they add, denouncing “arbitrary arrests, politically motivated criminal persecutions and other forms of repression.”

In total, lawyers “are aware of over 100 documented cases of state torture in Belarus.”

Among the alleged facts targeted by the complaint are “arrests for futile reasons, torture and ill-treatment during the days of detention”, detail the lawyers, including “physical violence, humiliation, threats, insults and other degradations during several days”.

Deprivation of sleep, food, medical care or even “beatings”, which had “serious consequences on the health” of opponents, are also cited in the complaint.

“Overall, the treatment of the state can only be described as bestial,” they conclude.

German justice applies here the principle of “universal jurisdiction” which allows certain crimes to be tried in Germany regardless of the place in the world where they were committed.

German justice has thus conducted investigations and tried former members of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, accused of acts of torture or “crimes against humanity”.