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2.5 Years of Open-Type Jail for Defamation of Lukashenka

2004 2004-06-10T10:00:00+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Kastrychnitski borough court of Minsk found Aksana Novikava guilty of libeling Alexander Lukashenka and sentenced her to 2.5 years of open-type prison.
Aksana Novikava did not expect any better. She told RFE/RL right after the verdict was announced: “With the farce of the so-called trial yesterday the verdict does not surprise me. They would never pass a non-guilty verdict. The presumption of innocence works only for Lukashenka; all the others are considered guilty from the very beginning. Whatever arguments they use to prove their innocence, they are still guilty at bottom. The court did not solve the issue about my daughter. What should I do with her now? She is only 3. I have nobody to leave her with”.
Aksana Novikava’s daughter Reata has just turned 3, besides, Aksana expects a baby. It’s her second sentence for libeling Alexander Lukashenka.
Last year Centralny borough court of Minsk conditionally sentenced Novikava to 2.5 years of prison. She was found guilty of spreading leaflets in the form of police “Wanted” notices. That time the court took her single parenthood into account and gave her a conditional sentence. In February this year Novikava was amnestied. In April she was charged with distribution of similar leaflets.
In court Novikava requested from the state prosecutor to justify his position. She requested to summon Prosecutor General Viktar Sheiman, ex-prosecutor General Aleh Bazhelka, minister of Internal Affairs Uladzimir Navumaw, ex-minister Yury Sivakow, Dzmitry Pawlichenka, Ivan Tsitsiankow, as well as Christos Pourgourides, Alexander Dabravolski and representatives of Gazprom company, so that they could prove Lukashenka’s involvement in the crimes she had listed in her leaflet. Besides that, Novikava asked to summon the “victim” of her crime – Alexander Lukashenka. The judge rejected all Novikava’s motions. The judge explained she was trying Aksana Novikava, and not Lukashenka.
Prosecutor Diana Hlushkova did not focus on the text of the leaflet and referred to the presumption of innocence: nobody can call Lukashenka a criminal without a court verdict. This was the only argument of the prosecution.
Paval Sapelka, Novikava’s defense lawyer will file a complaint to the city court. “The prosecution did not make any effort to collect the proofs that Aksana Novikava’s leaflets really contained a libel against the President. I think the court did not observe the law. The court even refused to examine witnesses who we asked to come to the courtroom. This is a blatant violation of the procedure norms. Obviously, we are going to appeal to higher instances against the verdict”

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