Authorities drop libel case against Poczobut

The criminal investigation against journalist Andrzej Poczobut is closed: his guilt has been not proved.

The Hrodna-based reporter of Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza was arrested in June, 2012 and charged with libelling against the president of the Republic of Belarus. According to the investigators, a number of articles written by Poczobut and placed on news websites “contained libels on the Head of the state”. Later he was released on his own recognisance. Not a single investigatory action might have been carried out, the investigation itself is going on. On June 30, 2012 the journalist was released on his own recognisance.

According to Siarhei Sharshanevich, spokesman for the Investigative Committee’s regional office in Hrodna, linguists who examined Mr. Poczobut’s articles came to conflicting conclusions and no conclusive evidence of his guilt could be found.

The journalist put the authoroties’ decision down to their attempt to repair relations with the EU: “Foreign Minister Makey has started behind-the-scenes negotiations with foreign officials. I believe that [my release] is directly connected to it”.

The closure of his case came as a surprise: three of four linguistic expert examinations spoke against Poczobut. “After the Academy of Public Administration, Belarusian State University and Academy of Sciences had discovered a bunch of criminal articles in my texts, the Investigation Committee required an extra opinion of modest Hrodna University for some purpose,” the journalist stressed. But he has not been familiarized with the results of the latest expert analysis which was conducted by Hrodna University.

As Andrzej Poczobut is out of travel ban, he may move freely within the territory of Belarus. Earlier he was not allowed to leave Hrodna. Being brimful of new ideas the reporter has already made some appointments with politicians and public persons.

It is not the first time that the journalist has been accused of insulting Aliaksandr Lukashenka: last year he stood trial started which was held behind the closed doors. Having spent three months in jail Poczobut was given a suspended sentence of three years of imprisonment.


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