Journalist Hardziyevich re-arrested after guilty verdict
The Ivanava District Court announced today a verdict in a criminal case against Siarhei Hardziyevich, a Drahičyn-based correspondent for the online media outlet “Pieršy Rehijon”.
Hardziyevich was found guilty of insulting government officials (Article 369), disseminating false and derogatory information (defamation) containing allegations of committing a serious crime (Article 188 and a public insult of the president (Part 1 of Article 368 of the Criminal Code).
As a result, Judge Henadz Kudlasevich sentenced the journalist to 18 months in a general-security penal colony. Hardziyevich was arrested after hearing the verdict.
The journalist was detained on December 22, 2020. His apartment in Brest was searched, and he was named a suspect in a criminal case under Art. 368 of the Criminal Code (insulting the president). The charge stems from a repost of a Viber message.
On December 25, 2021, Siarhei Hardziyevich was placed under house arrest.
In early May, the journalist was released from pre-trial detention, but remained under travel restrictions.
Since Siarhei Hardziyevich was taken into custody in the courtroom, he now again qualifies as a political prisoner.
During the trial, the defense lawyer said that according to the mobile phone operator Hardziyevich did not use the Internet on the day the offensive comment was posted. The lawyer noted that the journalist had a twin SIM card and it must have been used by third parties.
The defense also reminded that the group on Viber was deleted and it is therefore impossible to investigate the messages that were allegedly posted by Hardziyevich. Moreover, while under house arrest, when Siarhei Hardziyevich was prohibited to use the Internet, it was noticed that someone else was posting messengers on his behalf.
The defense reminded that all doubts about the guilt of the accused should be explained in his favor.