WARSAW, Poland (JTA) – A dozen protesters who slaughtered a sheep, stripped naked and chained themselves to the gate of the Auschwitz memorial were found guilty of desecrating the site.
Belarusian performers Adam Bialacki and Mikita Waładźko were found guilty on Wednesday in a court in the Polish city of Oswiecim of the desecration and of the murder of the animal and were each sentenced to prison. Ten others were fined.
In March, in what organizers called an anti-war protest, the group of five Belarusians, six Poles and one German stripped in the former German extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. The performers took the phrase “Arbeit macht frei,” or “Work makes you free,” located on the camp’s iron gate and replaced the word “Arbeit” with a banner that read “Love.” They also fired several flares and verbally declared their love for different countries of the world. They filmed the stunt using a drone.
Bialacki stabbed the sheep to death.
The court in Oswiecim sentenced Bialacki to 18 months in prison as well as a $600 fine. Waładźko was sentenced to 14 months in prison. Both men have a judicial ban on owning animals for 10 years. Other members of the group received fines of $3,000.
Bialacki is the son of the Belarusian human rights defender Alaksander Bialacki, twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Waładźko is an actor in the Belarusian Free Theater.