Journalist Andrzej Poczobut’s suspended sentence is terminated

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On September 23 the Leninski district court of Hrodna reviewed the criminal case of the journalist Andrei Poczobut and threw out the sentence.

On July 5, 2011 Andrei Poczobut was found guilty of violating article 367, part 1 of the Criminal Code and sentenced him to three years in jail with two years’ deferment. The period of deferment ended on September 20, reports press service of the Belarusian Association of Journalists.

“Surely I am pleased now that I can travel freely abroad and don’t need to register regularly at the police. Meantime, I still consider the sentence absolutely unlawful,” the journalist told in an interview to the press-service of BAJ. “Now I need to make a visa and I am going to visit the editorial office of Gazeta Wyborcza in Warsaw.”

According to the conviction, Andrei Poczobut defamed Aliaksandr Lukashenka in Gazeta Wyborcza, on Belarusian Partisan website, and in his blog poczobut.livejournal.com. His texts were examined by a language teacher of the Hrodna State University and two employees of the ideological department of the Hrodna Region Executive Committee.

Andrei Poczobut was set free in court room on July 5, under recognizance not to leave his place of residence. Before that he had been held in detention since April 6, 2011. His appeal was dismissed, and the sentence went into legal force on September 20.

We remind that in between Andrei Poczobut had another criminal proceeding initiated against him in summer 2012, according to article 367, part 2 (repeated libel against the head of state). In March 2013 the charges were dropped, due to absence of crime components in actions of the journalist.

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