A Minsk court has held a decision over compensating moral damage to four forner defendants in the White legion case.
In March, Andrey Dundukou, Viktar Maroz, Syarhei Strybulski and Viktar Danilau sent a joint civil claim through Maskouski district court in Minsk. The plaintiffs asked to compensate the moral damage caused by illegal detention, naming them as defendants and the use of travel and other restrictions. The men estimated the damage costs at 100,000 Belarusian rubles for each.
According to the claimants, they are owed compensation, because they felt great mental anguish and pressure during the time spent behind bars, as well as after the release.
However, Judge Volha Husakova has rejected their claim.
The judge refused to file state-run media articles, news stories and documentaries which insulted the dignity of the defendants movies as ‘irrelevant’ to the case. According to her, the triable issue was the damage allegedly caused by law enforcement authorities, not by media outlets. Judge Husakova noted that the plaintiffs had the right to go to court with a separate claim for defamation. But today the court has decided no compensation for moral damages should be paid to the four men, because everything was legal.
“The ruling is against the common sense and our Constitution. It is very frustrating when you are accused of the crimes that you never did. We will appeal against this decision, but I am not sure that the Belarusian court will change its opinion,” Viktar Danilau says.
In accordance with the Belarusian law, they should have first applied to the prosecuting authorities (in this case – to the KGB), to reaffirm their right to moral damages in court, the judge stressed.
“But if you seek compensation for moral damages over the distribution of information discrediting your honour and dignity, you do not ask a defendant „May I sue you?’ human rights activist Valyantsin Stefanovich says with a sad irony.
In March 2017, president Alyaksandr Lukashenka stated that several dozen persons ‘trained how to deal with weapons in [special] camps’ had been arrested in Belarus. According to him, such camps were located not far from the Belarusian towns of Babruysk and Asipovichy.
About 30 persons – former members of the White Legion, state-authorized sports and military club Patriot, Young Front activists as well as people who are not associated with any organizations, landed up in jail after Lukashenka’s words about ‘armed militants’ posing a threat to Belarus.
However, the first-ever case that had been opened under Article 287 of the Belarusian Criminal Code was closed on November 27.