German lawyers file criminal complaint against Lukashenko

Photo: EPA Belarusian police detain student protesters in Minsk, 1 September 2020.

Four German lawyers have filed a criminal complaint against Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko over excessive violence following the country's election, dpa has learned.

The lawyers filed a complaint with Germany's Federal Public Prosecutor's Office in Karlsruhe alleging crimes against humanity on behalf of ten clients who say they were torture victims. The clients reported physical abuse, deprivation of food and sleep, humiliation and degradation, and say they were left on their knees with their hands tied for hours so they could only support themselves with their heads.

All of the clients suffered severe health issues as a result, the lawyers said. "Overall, the state's treatment [of them] can only be described as barbaric," the lawyers said.

The concept of universal jurisdiction allows Germany to prosecute crimes committed by foreigners in other countries. Neither Lukashenko nor the members of his security apparatus will face legal consequences in Belarus, the lawyers argue.

According to the UN Human Rights Council, there are numerous reports of torture, abductions, arbitrary expulsions and disappearances in Belarus.

After Belarus held presidential elections last August which were widely considered fraudulent, hundreds of thousands of people protested against long-time leader Lukashenko. There have been reports of 30,000 detentions in relation to the protests, as well as hundreds of people injured and several deaths.

The European Union and the United States imposed sanctions on the country due to the excessive violence used by security forces against peaceful protesters.

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