Minsk court upholds guilty verdict to Belsat TV cameraman beaten by police


Аndrus Kozel (R) and defense lawyer Syarhei Zikratski (L) in Minsk City Court

Minsk City Court has considered the appeal by Belsat TV contributor on Wednesday.

On March 7, Kozel was on trial in Tsentralny district court in Minsk. He was accused of disobedience to the police.

As reported earlier, Andrus Kozel was severely beaten by police while observing the election process at one of Minsk polling stations on . The policemen broke the glass in the door to the polling station with Andrus’ head when they were detaining him.

“They hit me on the head, ribs and kidneys. Now I have a headache, they refused to provide no medical assistance and ignored all my requests. I was bleeding,” Kozel told Belsat.

However, Andrus Kozel was found guilty. Judge Ivan Kastsyan imposed a fine of BYN 735 on him.

Minsk City Court has decided to affirm the decision by the court a quo.

This is one more decision that shakes the confidence in the independence of Belarusian courts and their delivering sentences in accordance with the law, rather than a call from the high quarters,” Kozel stresses.

The man does not rule out that he will appeal the ruling again and lodge a complaint with international organisations.

In 2017, freelance journalists Volha Czajczyc and Andrus Kozel paid 8,556 Belarusian rubles to the state budget. The crew was repeatedly fined for contribution to Belsat TV.

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According to Reporters Without Borders, it is our journalists who are harassed by Belarusian government agencies most. In 2017, Belsat TV journalists paid over $ 14,000 of fines. 94% of fines for the so-called illegal production of media products fell on Belsat TV contributors, the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) reported.

Belsat TV which has been broadcasting over ten years, has been repeatedly denied accreditation for its journalists in Belarus. The Foreign Ministry has declared that it could not issue any accreditation to Belsat because the journalists working for the TV station … break the law.

Thus, the circle closes: journalists are denied accreditation because they break the law and they break the law, because they work without accreditation that they seek… And it explains the existence of absurdist Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code, which provides punishment for ‘illegal production and distribution of media products’. If you have accreditation, you are allowed be a journalist. If you do not have it – you are outlawed.

belsat.eu

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