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Belarus activist stabs his own neck in court

A Belarusian activist stabbed himself in the neck during a court appearance in the capital, Minsk, a rights group and opposition media have reported.

Footage appeared to show Stepan Latypov collapsing after using what looked like a pen as a weapon on Tuesday.

Mr Latypov was taken to hospital but his condition is not known.

He is accused of setting up opposition social media and also resisting police during his arrest last September. He has denied all the charges.

Mr Latypov stabbed himself after his father had given a witness testimony in the courtroom, according to Belarus’ rights group Viasna.

It said that, earlier, Mr Latypov was heard telling his father that the law enforcement authorities had threatened to physically punish him if had not admitted his guilt.

He also said that they had promised criminal cases against his relatives and neighbours.

Viasna said it took some time before courtroom guards opened the defendant’s cage holding Mr Latypov.

The Belarus opposition Nexta Telegram channel published a video apparently showing Mr Latypov lying down on a bench in the courtroom.

He was later taken by ambulance to hospital.

The Belarusian authorities have so far made no public comments on the issue.

In a separate development, Belarus has temporarily banned most of its citizens from leaving, including many foreign residency permit holders.

The State Border Committee’s tightening of the rules follows international outrage over Belarus’s recent diversion of a Ryanair flight and arrest of a top dissident and his girlfriend on board.

Many dissidents have left Belarus since the disputed election.

President Lukashenko’s main rival, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who insists that she won, has moved to neighbouring Lithuania with her team.

-BBC

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