Politically motivated criminal case against Siarhei Panamarou
The criminal case was brought against the democratic activist under Article 369 of the Criminal Code, 'insult of state official'. There were several attempts to bring a criminal case against Mr. Panamarou before. This time, the investigation conducted an expertise of the publications of his newspaper, Boiki Kletsk, for 2006-2007. As a result, traits of insult of state officials were found in more than 20 articles, and inn 7 articles the insult was definitely determined. The criminal case was instigated on the basis of these seven articles.
At present, Mr. Panamarou is a suspect on the case. The first interrogation was conducted on 9 June. The investigator told the activist the surnames of the insulted officials: A.Boika, Chairperson of the Kletsk District Executive Committee, A.Hastseyeva, Judge of the Kletsk District Court, P.Duduk, Chairperson of the Kletsk District Council of Deputies, and the police officers A.Kananovich and S.Zdrok. S.Panamarou and his counsel refused to give any testimonies before familiarizing with the case.
Human rights defenders underline their critical attitude to the existence of such articles in the criminal legislation of Belarus, and consider the persecution of the newspaper editor as political persecution.
'We, human rights defenders, consider as inadmissible the very existence in the Criminal Code of the articles that punish people for libel or insult of state officials, no matter what ranks such officials have. All people must defend their honor and dignity within in court, within the guidelines of civil proceedings, not with the assistance of investigation and criminal persecution,' points Uladzimir Labkovich, a lawyer of the Human Rights Center Viasna.