Andrzej Poczobut facing jail sentence of up to five years

The charge on Andrzej Poczobut, a Hrodna-based correspondent of Polish Gazeta Wyborcza and a member of the unrecognized Union of Poles in Belarus, is to be served within 10 days of his arrest.

The criminal case under article 367-2 of the Criminal Code (slander of the President) has opened against Poczobut by Hrodna Investigation Committee on the basis of the evidence provided by the regional KGB department, Pavel Traulka, Head of Information and Public Relatons Office of the Investigation Committee, told information company Belapan.

According to the evidence, a number of articles written by Poczobut and placed on news web sites “contained libels on the Head of the state”. “As part of the KGB investigation several linguistic evaluations were conducted. According to the experts, the publications given contain words, sentences and expressions concerning the President of the Republic of Belarus that are actionable libel discrediting the Republic of Belarus,” Traulka stated.

Official Warsaw expressed deep concern over the Hrodna journalist’s arrest. The Polish Consulate in Hrodna and the Embassy of Poland in Minsk are closely monitoring the situation. “This goes to prove that the human rights situation in Belarus is still unenviable,” Marcin Bosacki, Polish MFA Press Spokesman, said.

Polish MEP Marek Migalski calls the EU governing bodies, Polish MFA Radoslaw Sikorski and Ambassador of Poland to Belarus Leszek Szerepka to step in to save Andrzej Poczobut. It is not the first time when Lukashenka’s regime has brought about repressions toward the journalist, Migalski stressed.


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