Court orders to collect money from independent media in Horki
On December 18, after a long break the Horki District Court continued hearing the lawsuit by head of local office of the Belarusian Society of the Disabled Tamara Kaltunova against the BelaPAN news agency and the private enterprise UzHorak, which publishes the newspaper of the same name.
Neither the plaintiff nor her counsel appeared at the hearing. Judge Viktar Yaskevich said the reasons for her absence were unknown and decided to hear the case without the representatives of the plaintiff.
Witnesses for the defense who spoke at the trial, Sofya Shatoba, Kapitalina Zemliakova, Valiantsina Tsishkovich and Sviatlana Mikheyenka, confirmed that the information contained in BelaPAN’s publications reposted by the local independent weekly corresponded to their words and opinions that were expressed at a trial between Ms. Kaltunova and members of the disabled rights organization.
Despite this and the fact that publications provided the opposite opinion by Tamara Kaltunova, the Horki District Court concluded that the journalists insulted her honor, dignity and business reputation.
As a result, Judge Viktar Yaskevich ordered to collect a total of 6 mln rubles in moral damages. The court also ordered the defendants to pay the legal costs incurred by Tamara Kaltunova in the amount of 780 thousand rubles.
The lawsuit was filed by Tamara Kaltunova back in February. She accused the newspaper of libel, required to recover 50 million rubles and to publish a written rebuttal.