THE BDG`S ANOTHER LAWSUIT TURNED DOWN
The Supreme Economic Court of Belarus turned down The BDG lawsuit against the Information Ministry on the invalidation of The BDG’s reprimand for publishing an article “Where are Lavonaw’s millions?”.
In the beginning of the trial on 19 June Judge Alena Nikalayeva satisfied the motion of the Information Ministry, prohibiting video-taping and taking photographs in the courtroom. The same lawyers appeared for the Ministry, as during the trial on 17 June on the first reprimand to The BDG: Ministry’s chief law adviser Alaksei Lukhverchyk and head of the main advisory department Lilia Bohdan. Advocate Yawhen Malinowski appeared for The BDG.
The newspaper received a reprimand for an article “Where Are Lavonaw’s Millions? National Prosecutor’s Office Can’t Answer This Question. Searching…” was issued on May 22, 2003. According to the Minister’s order, the newspaper ”published the criminal case materials without a written permission of the judge”, thus violating Art 5 of the Law on press (During the trial Lavonaw requested to attach his speech to the case materials, and the article cited his words).
During the trial the newspaper representative stressed that The BDG reporter had been present during the open trial, where he had been officially accredited. When preparing an article he used not the case materials, but a tape recording, which is the property of the reporter, underlined advocate Malinowski. Thus, the editorial board considers the Ministry’s claims ungrounded, and the reprimand illegal.
According to Art 61 of the Code of Economic Procedures, in such cases it is the responsibility of the state body to prove their act has legal grounds. However, during the trial on 19 June the Ministry’s lawyers simply referred to the statement of the Prosecutor’s Office “About liquidation of violations of the Law on press and other mass media”, which became the ground to issue the reprimand. They stated the Prosecutor’s Office is a qualified body, and it was not their duty to examine its actions.
After a short break Judge Nikalayeva announced her decision: to reject the lawsuit.