Tut.by reporter and whistleblower doctor convicted in political trial

2021 2021-03-02T16:58:16+0300 2021-03-02T17:07:49+0300 en http://spring96.org/files/images/sources/photo_2021-02-19-11.48.55.jpeg The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Katsiaryna Barysevich and Artsiom Sarokin on trial. Photo: Belta via Reuters

Katsiaryna Barysevich and Artsiom Sarokin on trial. Photo: Belta via Reuters

The Maskoŭski District Court of Minsk has convicted tut.by journalist Katsiaryna Barysevich and medical doctor Artsiom Sarokin of illegal disclosing a medical secret, after they refuted official information alleging that the deceased protester Raman Bandarenka was drunk on the night of his death.

Both political prisoners were found guilty under part 3 of Article 178 of the Criminal Code. Judge Sviatlana Bandarenka sentenced Katsiaryna Barysevich to six months in prison and fined her 2,900 rubles, while Artsiom Sarokin was sentenced to 2 years of suspended imprisonment and a fine of 1,450 rubles. With over three months spent in pre-trial detention, Barysevich will only have to serve ten weeks. Sarokin was released in the courtroom.

On the first day of the trial, February 19, at the request of the prosecutor, the judge ordered to hold the hearings behind closed doors, citing a need to avoid “disclosure of medical secrets and information of the investigation.” All persons involved in the trial were forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement. As a result, it is not even known what punishment the prosecutor requested for the two defendants.

After his release, Artsiom Sarokin said he did not plead guilty. He declined to comment further, including on whether he was going to appeal.

Lawyer Andrei Machalau, who defended Katsiaryna Barysevich, said that his client was surprised by the verdict, given that the state prosecutor had requested for “a little more.”

“Katsiaryna spent almost three and a half months in isolation. There are just over two left. Before the appeal hearing, she will be in a pre-trial detention center,” the counsel said.

“As before, we believe that there was no corpus delicti,” added Mikhail Badnarchuk, Katsiaryna’s other lawyer.

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