Journalist in Hlybokaje fined 4.5 million
The Hlybokaje District Court has found local freelance journalist Dzmitry Lupach guilty of violating the law on mass media - Part 2 of Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code (illegal production and distribution of media products).
The charges stemmed from a publication on the website Euroradio.fm.
The judge did not allow BHC representative in Viciebsk region, a member of the Belarusian Association of Journalists Pavel Levinau to speak as a witness. The human rights defender wanted to clarify that Mr Lupach, as a private individual, was neither the publisher nor the distributor of the media. Dzmitry Lupach’s guilt was not confirmed by a representative of Euroradio Kanstantsin Zalatykh, who said it was an editorial article.
The defense counsel stressed that the witnesses did not confirm that they were interviewed by Dzmitry Lupach. And the journalist was deprived of the right to defense, as the violation report was drafted on June 25, while his rights were explained to him only on July 10, according to the documents of the case. The counsel suggested that the charges be dropped.
Nevertheless, the court found the journalist guilty, not taking into account the explanations of Dzmitry Lupach himself, which also did not consider himself an offender. The Court also did not accept the conclusions of the counsel that the violation report was compiled in correctly: there was no information about the time and place of the offense, there was no signature of the journalist that he was told about his rights and obligations. In addition, the lawyer said that the police inspected the actions of the journalist under the rules of the Criminal Procedure Code, while it is not provided by the administrative law.
The journalist says he is going to appeal the decision to the Viciebsk Regional Court.