Viciebsk Regional Court turns down appeal by freelance journalist
Judge Sviatlana Ivanava of the Viciebsk Regional Court has dismissed an appeal lodged by journalist Dzmitry Lupach against a decision of the Hlybokaje District Court, which fined him 4.5 million “for cooperating with foreign media without accreditation.”
The administrative charges stemmed from a publication on the website euroradio.by.
Today, the Court was expected to hear the appeal by another freelance journalist, Tatsiana Smotkina, which was also found guilty on the same charges and fined 4.5 mln.
However, Tatsiana Smotkina did not appear in court, as her presence is not required under the law. Yet, the judge refused to consider the appeal, says local human rights activist Pavel Levinau.
“The judge asked if there were any concerned parties present in the courtroom. We told that there were friends, colleagues, human rights activists... But learning that Tatsiana Smotkina was not present, the judge left the room in silence. I think that is an insult, because appeals must be heard in open court proceedings. We could not know what the judge decided on the case in the end,” says he.
The outcome of the hearing should be announced writing. However, according to Pavel Levinau, the result of Dzmitry Lupach’s appeal gives reason to doubt that the decision of the District Court in the case of Tatsiana Smotkina will be cancelled.