On 8 October the administrative case of the member of the Council of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” Uladzimir Labkovich was finally reviewed by the Savetski District Court of Minsk.
The human rights defender appealed the ruling of Judge of the Savetski District Court of 6 August, according to which he was punished with a fine under part 1 of Article 23.34 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (“violation of the rules for organizing and holding mass events”). The Minsk City Court reversed the verdict and returned the case to the Savetski District Court for review by another judge.
On the fourth attempt Judge Eduard Yakubouski, having questioned as witness the police officer Smaliak (who had detained Mr. Labkovich), issued a verdict which has no substantial differences from the earlier one – to punish the defendant 3.9 million rubles.
Commenting on the judgment, Mr. Labkovich said: “The testimony of policeman Smaliak is far from the truth, to put it mildly, and sometimes is plainly false. For instance, he asserted that I had cried out slogans together with Reviaka, urged passers-by to release Ales Bialiatski and even continued doing so during the detention.
The absurdity of this situation is that in this case a precedent was set when the distribution of postcards is regarded as an unauthorized mass event. Of course, such verdict is completely illegal and will be appealed at a higher court instance.”
Human rights defenders Uladzimir Labkovich and Tatsiana Reviaka were detained on 5 August 2013 near the capital’s central department store, where they were handing out postcards on the occasion of the second anniversary of the arrest of the chairman of the HRC “Viasna” Ales Bialiatski.