Ten Belarusians in the diaspora have petitioned a Germany to open a criminal investigation against President Alexander Lukashenko and security officers for alleged crimes against humanity during a crackdown on protests.
The petitioners cited universal jurisdiction laws that allow Germany to try crimes against humanity committed anywhere in the world.
A former member of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s security services was prosecuted in February for abetting the torture of civilians.
“All clients have reported of spurious arrests, torture and abuse during the days of their imprisonment… Each of our clients has suffered severe health consequences,” the lawyers of all 10 Belarusians living across Europe, jointly said.
The Belarusian authorities have proscribed protests, categorizing those who indulge it as criminals or violent revolutionaries backed by the West, and described the actions of law enforcement agencies as adequate and necessary.
Lukashenko’s presidency has recently been faced with street protests since a controversial presidential election last August, which was rejected by the opposition on claims of rigging. Police clamped down on the protesters and had scores of them arrested.
The lawyers said in the new filing that the 10 Belarusians wanted an independent investigation and prosecution of those found guilty.
Opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who is in self-imposed exile in Lithuania, welcomed the legal filing.
“There will never be impunity in Belarus, and today’s news is a clear example of this,” she said in a statement.