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Belarus election protestors receive jail time

[JURIST] Jail sentences were handed down Monday by Belarusian courts for more than 150 protestors who were detained by police [JURIST report] while taking part in recent election protests. Thousands of citizens gathered [JURIST report] last week to demonstrate against alleged election fraud in the March 19 presidential elections [JURIST report] in which incumbent Alexander Lukashenko [official website; BBC profile] was reelected to a third term. While the mostly young protestors received jail time for up to 15 days, opposition politician Aleksander Kozulin could face up for six years in jail on hooliganism charges.

The sentences were issued without the presence of defense lawyers and irrespective of whether the accused pleaded guilty or not. The European Union [official website] has expressed serious concern [press release] about the arrests and has demanded the release of Kozulin. Opposition leader Alexander Milinkevich [Wikipedia profile] has openly criticized the detention of the protesters and has pledged to hold nationwide protests to win more public support. Reuters has more.

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