Germany condemns jailing of Belarus opposition leader

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Germany's foreign minister on Saturday denounced as "political" the conviction of a top Belarus opposition presidential candidate.

A Minsk court jailed opposition leader Andrei Sannikov for five years on charges of organising protests after the disputed re-election of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko.

"In this trial, justice has not been served. It is the political will of Lukashenko that was executed," Guido Westerwelle said in a statement released by the foreign ministry.

The incumbent swept the December election with almost 80 percent of the vote, but the poll was deemed fraudulent by observers.

Four other young opposition supporters, the youngest 19, were also convicted and handed sentences of up to three-and-a-half years at the same trial.

"I condemn with the strongest terms the judgements against Andrei Sanniko and the other opposition supporters," Westerwelle said.

"The governrment must immediately review all judgments that had a political motivation. All political prisoners must be freed. The people of Belarus also have the right to live in freedom and dignity," he added.

In the statement, the minister noted that Sannikov is "one of five former candidates in the presidential election to be imprisoned after protesting against the rigged elections of December 2010."

© 2011 AFP

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