Andrzej Poczobut’s trial behind closed doors

The court in Grodzieńsk decided in favor of the prosecution’s appeal for a closed trial. Our correspondent was informed of this by the journalist’s wife, Oksana Poczobut, who along with the couple’s daughter visited her husband today at the temporary arrest in which he is being held. „This was the first thing Andrzej told me and I almost fainted,“ she told Biełsat, adding that according to her information, family and friends are only going to be allowed inside the trial room for the sentence reading. Poczobut was to have informed his wife about the closed trial in a letter sent from jail, which never reached its addressee.

Oksana Poczobut also mentioned that regardless of this very distressing news the journalist remains in good spirits. He complains only of the heat inside his cell and asked her to send him a healing balm. This may indicate that he has some sort of spinal problems, she believes. „As for the sentence, Andrzej has no delusions that he might avoid the penal colony“, she added.

The Gazeta Wyborcza journalist and activist of the Union of Poles in Belarus faces charges based on two articles of the Belarusian criminal code: „Insulting the president“ and „slander against the president“. He may receive a punishment of two to four years in prison. The trial will begin on June 14th of this year and will be presided over by judge Wital Liaćko.

As stresses human rights defender Walancin Stefanowicz, this is the first closed trial to take place after the 19th of December. But as he points out, Poczobut is being tried based on different articles than the majority of opposition activists, who were generally charged with organizing or participating in mass social unrest. „According to the law, court proceedings should be closed when the matter of the trial is controversial as in during rape cases, or otherwise in cases concerning state secrets. Nevertheless, Belarusian law holds that the court can hold closed proceedings in „special cases“ and it is on this basis that many political trials are closed,“ he said during a conversation with Biełsat.


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