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russian citizen Sapega, arrested with Protasevich, asks Lukashenko for pardon

27.06.2022, 13:05

russian citizen Sophia Sapega, who was arrested last year along with Belarusian opposition blogger Roman Protasevich and sentenced to six years in prison in Belarus, has asked the self-proclaimed President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko for pardon. This was reported by the russian ВВС.

According to the convict's family lawyer Anton Gashinsky, on June 22, Sapega submitted a request for pardon to the administration of the IC-4 penal colony in Gomel, where she was transferred from a pre-trial detention center three weeks ago.

In the appeal, the 24-year-old prisoner asks Lukashenko to release her from serving a six-year term or change it for a milder sentence. "I just want to be with my family... I want to breathe freely…" the petition reads.

On May 6, a Belarusian court sentenced Sapega to six years in prison on charges of "inciting social hatred and illegally collecting information about the private life of officials."

She also has to pay 175,000 Belarusian rubles at redress for moral damage to hundreds of people who, according to the court, suffered from her work on the "Black Book of Belarus" Telegram channel. Personal details of Belarusian security officers, officials, judges, and state media journalists were posted there. Currently, the channel is blocked, BBC reports.

Sapega did not contest the verdict; it came into force on May 17. In her request for pardon, she stated that she had realized her fault and fulfilled all the conditions of the pre-trial agreement with the investigation by "providing full, consistent, and truthful confessions" and "assisting the investigation in uncovering a number of crimes committed by others."

Sapega writes to Lukashenko that it was her "youth and foolishness," as well as unstable mental and physical state, that had motivated her to commit crimes. She explains that she "came under the influence of a destructive group of people" and, while behind bars, "has fully realized the unlawfulness and illegality" of her actions and "sincerely repents" of them.

She asks the self-proclaimed President of Belarus to show leniency and believe in her redemption, to give her a chance "to be useful to society and to be close to her mother and father."

Earlier, lawyer Gashinsky told the BBC that in order to be pardoned, it is necessary to repay the entire amount specified in the sentence. Sapega writes in the request that "as of today" neither she nor her parents have the money to repay the entire debt. But that she "does not deny her obligation" to pay the debt to the victims.

A request for personal guarantees was attached to the petition. The defense did not disclose who exactly vouched for Sapega.

The convict's administration must send the convict's request to the Pardon Commission. If her request is declined, she will be able to apply for pardon again in six months.

As IMI reported, on May 6, 2022, a court panel of the Grodno Regional Court (Belarus) sentenced russian citizen Sophia Sapega, who was arrested last year along with Belarusian opposition blogger Roman Protasevich after the forced landing of a Ryanair plane, to six years in a maximum security penal colony.

Sophia Sapega had already asked Lukashenko for pardon before.

Belarusian opposition journalist Roman Protasevich was detained on May 23. He was a passenger on the Athens-Vilnius flight, which landed in Minsk due to a report of a bomb on board. After the inspection, Belarusian police arrested Protasevich. Ryanair has received instructions from Belarusian air traffic controllers to land the plane in Minsk. At Lukashenko's request, a MiG-29 military jet was lifted into the sky to escort the plane. A number of Belarusian human rights organizations have recognized Protasevich and Sapega as political prisoners. The EU and the US have condemned the detention of Roman Protasevich.

On June 25, it became known that Protasevich and Sapega had been placed under house arrest. The Investigative Committee of Belarus stated that they had made a deal with the authorities.

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