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Belarusian prisoner attempts to slit his throat in the middle of a court hearing

Stepan Latypov is taken away by medics. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/TNS)

A Belarusian man who was arrested during a protest attempted to cut his throat while he was in the middle of a court hearing on Tuesday.

While in court, 41-year-old Stepan Latypov was told that if he pleaded not guilty, his family and friends would face prosecution, according to local media reports. That prompted him to take the drastic measure of trying to slit his neck, according to Reuters.

Dramatic footage captures Latypov lying on a wooden bench inside the confines of a prison cage with onlookers cringing in fear while police looked on. Another video shows Latypov being taken out of the courthouse and placed into a waiting ambulance. His shirt was stained with blood.

While in court, Latypov addressed his father Sergei who had appeared as a witness. While speaking to his father, Latypov told him that he was kept in a torture cell for 51 days and that he would likely suffer the same fate. Shortly after, using an object that appeared to be a pen, Latypov stabbed his neck.

“Father, police officers told me I will be put into the confinement cell and my relatives and neighbours will be prosecuted under criminal law if I do not confess,” Latypov said to his father before he “took something white in his teeth, and started literally to cut his throat.”

The Belarusian health ministry said that Latypov was in stable condition and was being treated at a local hospital.

A Belarusian opposition leader responded to the incident on Twitter.

“Belarusian activist, political prisoner Stsiapan Latypau cut his throat in the courtroom today,” said Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. “This is the result of state terror, repressions, torture in Belarus.”

Latypov was arrested in September during protests challenging Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko’s election. He was charged with organizing riots, resisting police and fraud, and was accused by state media of planning to poison police officers.

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