Britain condemns 'show trials' in Belarus
British Foreign Secretary William Hague strongly condemned Belarus on Friday for "politically-motivated show trials" after a court in Minsk jailed two former presidential candidates.
"The Belarusian authorities need to understand that there can be no normalisation of relations with the international community without respect for the most basic of human rights and fundamental freedoms," he said.
Nikolai Statkevich and Dmitry Uss were jailed on Thursday for leading post-election protests against President Alexander Lukashenko, in the last of a series of political trials resulting from the unrest in December.
"I utterly condemn the sentences passed" on the two men, and those given to two other former presidential candidates on May 20, Hague said.
He added: "Whatever the official reason given for their conviction it is clear that their real 'crime' was the exercise of their right to protest against the flawed elections of 19 December.
"This (Thursday's) trial is the latest in a series of politically-motivated show trials which have seen the conviction of 43 people."
Britain called on Belarus to immediately release all political prisoners; to end the "politically-motivated persecution" of civil groups, the media and students; and investigate suspects' allegations of torture and ill-treatment.
© 2011 AFP