Hrodna Regional Court turns down appeal by local human rights defenders
Hrodna Regional Court considered today a complaint by Hrodna human rights defenders Viktar Sazonau, Raman Yurhel and Uladzimir Khilmanovich. On January 5, Judge Vital Liatsko of Leninski District Court sentenced the activists to a fine of 500,000 each for posting a photo on the Internet, where the activists were shown holding the portraits of political prisoner Ales Bialiatski.
Judge Anatol Zayats of the Regional Court predictably took the side of the District Court and, despite all the arguments of the human rights defenders provided both in the complaint in writing and further during its consideration, upheld the decision.
Raman Yurhel: “It would be naive to hope for a different decision of the Regional Court. The court once again showed corporate pseudo-solidarity and actually confirmed a purely political sentence. If the case were considered at a purely legal level, it would not exist at all. As yet, there is no evidence, no materials to prove our guilt, a number of procedural violations – and what we got is inadequate and punitive results. In fact, the main legal principle of the judicial system has been broken – the presumption of innocence.”
Uladzimir Khilmanovich: “In my speech, I deliberately paid special attention not only to the legal absurdity of our administrative case, but to the fact that the Judge had a unique opportunity to save the honor of Hrodna Justice. However, the sensation did not happen. We have appealed and will continue appealing the verdict, not only because we were convicted absolutely unfairly, but also because it created a dangerous precedent when every citizen can be tried for an ordinary picture, when the illegality of the judiciary becomes absolute, which is extremely dangerous to our society.”