Chief editor of independent newspaper to stand trial in Mahilioŭ
The trial of Ihar Barysau, editor-in-chief of an independent weekly called NAŠ Mahilioŭ, will take place in the Kastryčnicki District Court on July 29.
“Today, I got a call from the court and asked if I had received any summons to appear there tomorrow, that is on July 24. However, I’ve received no summons and I knew nothing about the hearing. In addition, I was caught on my way to the airport when I had a ticket and plans for the coming week. I told about the situation, and then the judge agreed to postpone the date of the court session,” says Ihar Barysau.
On July 13, when the chief editor went to collect the seized computers, police officers charged him with two administrative violations. The journalist was accused of violating Art. 22.9 of the Administrative Code (violation of the law on mass media), and Part 2 of Art. 23.24 of the Administrative Code (violation of the procedure for receiving financial aid from abroad, which, according to the accused, was used to sustain the work of the weekly).
On March 13, four police officers, along with two witnesses came to search the private apartment of Ihar Barysau. They eventually took three computers, a modem, and a notebook. Then, the same police officers visited the local office of the Human Rights Center "Viasna", and also took three computers for examination.
The reason for the searches was a statement to the police from director of a local state-owned enterprise Stužka, which argued that the article posted on the website of NAŠ Mahilioŭ contain slander. The article said that the top manager lost his apartment and part of the company’s shares in a casino.
The police conducted an examination of the computers, as well as a linguistic examination of the publication. However, they were unable to prove the journalist’s involvement. The linguistic examination did not reveal the fact of slander, either. However, the journalist faced administrative charges, instead.