The cassation appeal by member of the Board of the HRC “Viasna” Uladzimir Labkovich against a ruling by the Court of Minsk’s Savetski district of October 8, which punished the human rights defender by a fine of 3.9 million rubles (420 $), was considered by the Minsk City Court on November 19. The consideration of the complaint took place without the participation of Labkovich, as he only received the notification on November 23.
Uladzimir Labkovich and Tatsiana Reviaka were detained on August 5 while handing out cards on the occasion of the second anniversary of the arrest Viasna’s leader Ales Bialiatski. The following day the Court of Savetski district found the human rights defenders guilty of violating the order of organizing and holding of mass events and fined them 3 million rubles each.
Uladzimir Labkovich appealed the ruling to the Minsk City Court. The court of cassation ruled to cancel this decision and sent the case to the Court of Savetski district for retrial before before a new judge.
It took Judge Eduard Yakubouski four sessions, who interrogated as a witness police officer Smaliak, to finally, to actually repeat the decision of the previous court on October 8 and to fine the human rights activist 3.9 million rubles.
In his complaint to the Minsk City Court, Labkovich raised the issue of reversing the verdict, saying that his conviction was groundless, as he was merely implementing a right guaranteed by the Constitution and international standards. The human rights activist says the application of the law “On Mass Events in the Republic of Belarus” is illegal, because its provisions are inconsistent with the Constitution and international standards of human rights.
Besides, Uladzimir Labkovich tells the Minsk City Court that at the time of filing the appeal he did not even know what was the reason for the court to find him guilty of an administrative offense: “In the course of the trial, Judge Eduard Yakubouski of Minsk’s Savetski District Court, who presided at the hearing, acquainted me with only the final part of the decision, as owing to the lack of electricity in the courthouse at the time of consideration of my complaint, he could not, in his words, print out a full text of the decision.”
Judge Aliaksei Bychko of the Minsk City Court found no grounds for revocation of the previous decisions. Therefore, he upheld the ruling of the court of Savetski district of October 8 and dismissed his appeal.
In the near future Uladzimir Labkovich is planning to appeal the decision of the Minsk City Court to a supervisory authority.