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Blogger threatened after refusing to go to police station without summons

2015 2015-03-16T11:45:05+0300 2015-03-16T11:45:05+0300 en
Journalist and blogger Hleb Labadzenka

Journalist and blogger Hleb Labadzenka

Journalist and blogger Hleb Labadzenka came across the outrageous methods used by a police officer from Minsk's Savetski District Police Department.

“I received a calll on my mobile phone from a man who said he was from the police and told me to come for a conversation. Obviously, I asked why and what the conversation was going to be about. He said: “I am not in the position to tell you, because this is a secret of investigation”, Labadzenka told Euroradio.

The man on the phone said that the journalist's phone had been spotted near the crime scene, so he had to question him.  “You might have seen something…,”  said the police officer. Labadzenka said that since he was busy with family and work issues, he would appreciate receiving an official summons. Alternatively, the police officer could come to him and talk.

“Then, the man said: “Well, since you do not want to come to us, you might be hiding something. When I call others, they just come. In your case, it can be described as a refusal to cooperate with investigation. I propose that you come "in a good spirit of cooperation. But if you do not want to do so, be prepared that officers come for you in very unconvinient morning hours to take you to the police station and interrogate you.”

The journalist does not have the slightest idea what crime the officer was talking about. Labadzenka was also surprised to be immediately suspected of something when he refused to report to the police station without a summons. Where is the presumption of innocence? The blogger also feels that the hints about coming for him "in unconvinient hours" are in fact either an office abuse or a direct threat.

“His main argument was: all but you agreed to come. Do you think you are special? I reckon this kind of situation should be exposed and highlighted, because this is exactly injustice and lawlessness," says the blogger. "They try to put pressure on people who very often are not aware of their rights and tell them on the phone to "run to the police station at the other end of the city.” I believe the law-enforcement officers should adhere to common norms themselves. But if the police is indeed entitled to coming and taking a person to a police station, because he or she refused to go without an official summons but just after a telephone call, I would like these powers of the police be explained to Belarusians.”  

The press office of Minsk City Police Department was unable to comment on this situation to Euroradio at the time this report was being written.

Under the Criminal Procedure Court of Belarus (Article 192 (2)),  "investigative actions in night hours are not allowed except immediate cases. But the issue is only about the legal loopholes in the legislation. On March 5, Aliaksandr Lukashenka highlighted the problem of "arrogance", which police officers often tolerate when dealing with the rank and file. In less than one week from Lukashenka's speech, the renowned journalist faced the same kind of arrogance the president had denounced. 


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