Freelance journalist summoned to trial by SMS

2015 2015-03-06T18:09:14+0300 2015-03-06T18:09:14+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Tamara Shchapiotkina

Tamara Shchapiotkina

Tamara Shchapiotkina was summoned to court twice. At 8.30 p.m. on March 4 he was called by a man who introduced himself as police inspector Rachynski from Brest and told that she needed to appear at the Leninski District Court of Brest in the morning of March 5.

He also asked whether she has received a writ through the local police. She said that she hadn't received any writ, after which he stated that she needed to phone to court in the morning and ask to postpone the hearing. T. Shchapiotkina refused to do it, as she couldn't be sure that the man was really a police officer.

At about 10 p.m. on March 5 two policemen from the Biaroza District Police Department knocked on her dore. T. Shchapiotkina knew one of them, deputy head of the department of public order Mikalai Prakurat. The latter also asked about the writ. The journalist answered she hadn't received it. Then she took out two identical papers, with Article 4 of the Code of Administrative Offenses, which describes the rights of the sides to an administrative trial, and told to her to sign that she was familiarized with this document. Tamara Shchapiotkina wrote on one of the sheets that she was familiarized with the delivered document at 9.46 p.m.

At 8.30 p.m. on March 5 the journalist saw an SMS-message on her mobile saying that she needed to appear at the Leninski District Court of Brest on March 6 as a person involved in an administrative case. The phone number was +375 29 5718954. The message contained no information about its author. The journalist sent two SMS messages to that phone number. In one of them she asked the sender to introduce him- or herself, as she would consider it a joke otherwise. She didn't receive an answer, and wrote again – warning that she would come not to court, but to the prosecutor's office to challenge such actions.

The journalist filed a complaint with the prosecutor of the Biaroza district regarding the situation around the adminitrative case. She requests an inspection of the legality of the actions of the police officers and taking measures of prosecutorial reaction.

Let us remind that Tamara Shchapiotkina is accused of collaboration with foreign media without accreditation. She was not present when the violation report was drawn up. At the first trial the report was returned to the police for revision. The journalist wasn't present during the revision either.