Poczobut gets suspended sentence of three years

Andrzej Poczobut, a journalist and an activist of the Union of Pole in Belarus, was today given a suspended sentence of three years of prison for labeling and insulting president Lukashenka. After two years the sentence is to be reviewed in court.

Right after the sentence was pronounced, the journalist went outside the court building to greet his family and friends who rallied there in support. His trial started on June 14th and was held behind the closed doors. He spent last three months is jail.

Poczobut announced he will appeal the sentence, because he disagrees with the court’s decision to find him guilty of insulting Lukashenka by calling the Belarusian president a “dictator”. The journalist also stated he is not going to change his attitude towards the Belarusian authorities.

Because the trial was closed to the public, all the informationre passed through his lawyers – Uladzimir Kisialevich and Aleksander Birylau. The exception was made for the last day of trial. Seven people were allowed into the court room for the pronouncing of Poczobut’s sentence. Among them was the journalist’s wife – Oksana, his mother, godparents, the chairwoman of the Union of Poles in Belarus – Angelika Orekhvo and the deputy chairman of the Belarusian Association of Journalists’, Andrei Bastuniets. Media were not allowed in for the pronouncing of the sentence. Also, Polish consul was banned from entering the room.

„It’s quite possible that today’s sentence is a result of the actions of independent journalists, regular people and representatives of the Union of Poles in Belarus and everyone else, who demanded that the journalist is released.” – commented Pawel Mazejka, Belsat TV journalist. He also considered that the mild sentence might be related to Polish presidency. – It cannot be excluded that the authorities hope for gaining something through this sentence. – he added.

When asked about the treatment during his detention, Andrzej Poczobut said that nothing horrible happened, he was not beaten or humiliated. The only incident happened today – policemen who were escorting him to the court, in order to prevent Poczobut from being seen by his family and journalists, twisted his hands so much, that he fell on the ground.

During today’s court hearing, Andrzej Poczobut in his final speech, protested the charges. He was accused of slandering and offending president Lukashenka, for which he could have been sentenced to two to four years in prison.



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