MINSK CITY COURT RECOGNIZED THE RIGHT OF CITIZENS TO TRIALS IN BELARUSIAN LANGUAGE
The judgement to Viasna lawyer Uladzimir Labkovich for participation in a protest action against liquidation of the organization was reversed because the judge had refused to use Belarusian language during the trial.
Head of Minsk city court Mikhail Ardziaka reversed overruled the judgement made by Leninski borough court judge Dz. Zhdanok, who had ruled to fine Uladzimir Labkovich for participation in a sit-in.
When on 28 October 2003 the Supreme Court ruled to liquidate the Human Rights Center "Viasna", Viasna members sat on the courtroom floor to protest against the court decision. Eight members of the Human Rights Center received fines for participation in the sit-in under Art 166 of the Code of Administrative Offences (insubordination to legal demands of the police officers).
Lawyer Uladzimir Labkovich was among the action participants. During the trial Judge Dzmitry Zhdanok defeated his motion for translation into Belarusian language, thus violating the constitutional right of the "offender" to use his mother tongue. Uladzimir Labkovich appealed against the judge’s actions. Minsk city court reversed the judgement and sent the case for a new trial. The Ruling of Minsk city court reads: "The judgement is subject for reversal for the following reasons:
According to Art 247 of the Code of Administrative Offences, a person under trial has the right to read through the case materials, give explanations, present proofs, enter motions, use legal advice of a lawyer, speak his native tongue and use the services of an interpreter if he does not know the language of the trial, and to appeal against a judgement.
In his appeal U. M. Labkovich indicates the court has groundlessly refused to provide him with an interpreter.
As it is seen from the minutes of the trial, Labkovich explained the judge: "I cannot understand everything, because I don’t understand Russian. I know everyday Russian vocabulary, but I don’t understand the legal terns in Russian". Thus the judge has violated the right of U. M. Labkovich to use the services of an interpreter, which leads to reversal of the judgement".