Natallia Hersche

Belarus-Switzerland dual citizen, sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison, released

Former prisoner

Date of birth: 20 October 1969

Date of detention: 19 September 2020

Charges indicted:

Art. 363 of the Criminal Code — Resistance to a police officer or other person guarding public order

Sentence: 2 1/2 years

Penalty: imprisonment in a high security prison

Date of release: 18 February 2022

Judge: Siarhei Shatsila

Prosecutor: Anastasiya Maliko

Natallia Hersche

Natalia Hersche has dual citizenship - Belarus and Switzerland. She has been living in Switzerland for the last 12 years with her minor daughter. Natallia visits Belarus once a year.

This year, she arrived in Minsk on September 11, and after meeting with her friend on September 19, she joined the All-Women March near the Kamaroŭski market. This was the only time Natallia took part in a protest (she had a return ticket to Switzerlandon for September 21).

On that day, she was detained and charged under Art. 23.34 of the Administrative Code (participation in an unauthorized mass event). During the arrest, Natallia reportedly did not obey the officer's demand to enter a police bus, tried to escape, and grabbed an OMON officer, Siarhei Konchyk, by the face and scratched it, tearing off his balaclava. Because of this, a criminal case was opened against her under Art. 363 of the Criminal Code (resistance to a police officer).

Before the trial, Natallia was held in a pre-trial prison in Žodzina. The trial started on December 3, 2020. On December 7, Judge Siarhei Shatsila of the Saviecki District Court of Minsk sentenced Natallia to 2 years and 6 months in a general-security penal colony. This is exactly what the state prosecutor had previously requested.

Swiss national gets 2 ½ years in prison for tearing balaclava off riot policeman

Ms. Hersche was found guilty of “violent resistance to a law enforcement officer” (Art. 363, Part 2 of the Criminal Code) over an incident that happened during a women-only peaceful demonstration in central Minsk. The woman was detained, but reportedly “resisted arrest,” which resulted in a “slight damage to the mask in the area of the eye slit” and a “scratch near the right eye.”

On February 16, the sentence was upheld by Judge Alena Shylko of the Minsk City Court.

On September 24, 2021, the Čyhunačny District Court of Homieĺ ordered to transfer Hersche to a male prison in Mahilioŭ.

End of January 2022, Natallia went on a four-day hunger strike to protest the inhumane conditions in the prison.

On February 18, 2022, after 17 months of imprisonment, Natalia Hersche was released.

Political prisoner Natallia Hersche released from prison

Thanks to Switzerland's diplomatic efforts the woman can finally return to Switzerland


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