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Second Belarusian Attorney Abandons Khalip Case

Iryna Khalip, pictured here with her family
Iryna Khalip, pictured here with her family
MINSK -- Another Minsk-based lawyer has abruptly withdrawn from defending Belarusian opposition activist Iryna Khalip, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Khalip, wife of former presidential candidate Andrey Sannikau, has been under house arrest since January 30. She was arrested along with hundreds of other opposition activists on December 19 during a protest against the results of the presidential election held that day, which the Belarusian opposition says was rigged.

Khalip was in jail from December 19 until January 30.

On February 4, lawyer Tamara Harayeva said she would no longer defend Khalip. She gave no explanation for her decision.

Khalip's father, Uladzimer Khalip, told RFE/RL this is the second time this has happened. He said a previous lawyer, Uladzimer Toustsik, withdrew from the case last month after Minsk authorities warned him he could lose his license to practice law.

Uladzimer Khalip said Belarusian authorities are trying to force his daughter to accept a state-appointed lawyer who would be under their control.

Iryna Khalip was unavailable to comment on the situation as she is banned from having contact with the media. She has officially been charged with organizing an unsanctioned gathering and participating in mass disorder.

She faces a possible 15 years in prison.

Read more in Belarusian here