Andrzej Poczobut’s trial behind closed doors

A court in Hrodna accepted prosecution’s motion to hold closed-door trial against Andrzej Poczobut. Oksana Poczobut, the journalist’s wife, visited today with her daughter a detention center where Poczobut is held. – It was the first thing Andrzej told me and I almost died – Ms. Poczobut told Belsat’s correspondent, adding that according to the obtained information, family and friends are to be allowed into the court room only for pronouncing the sentence. Apparently, Mr. Poczobut tried to inform his wife about the closed-door trial in a letter sent from the arrest, but Ms. Poczobut never received it.

Oksana Poczobut said that despite such a bad news, the journalist is in a positive state of mind. He only complained on the heat in the cell room and asked for a medical ointment, which in her opinion means some sort of back problems. – In terms of the sentence, Andrzej has no doubt he will not be able to avoid the prison camp – she added.

Mr. Poczobut, a journalist of „Gazeta Wyborcza“ and an activist of the Union of Poles in Belarus is accused of „offending president“ and „slander of president“, which based on Belarusian Criminal Code can be punished with two to four years in prison. The trial will start on June 14th. Vital Laitsko will be the judge.

Valatsin Stefanovich stressed that this is the first closed-door court trial after the December 19th, however Mr. Poczobut is facing different charges than all other dissidents tried in a recent crack-down, who were charged with either organizing or participating in mass social unrest. – The law on withholding the content of a court proceedings is meant to be used in controversial cases, such as rape or in a context of the classified state information. Belarusian law leaves an option of holding trial behind closed doors in „exceptional cases“, and that’s why many political processes where kept secrete – Mr. Stefanovich told Belsat.


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