Activist Dzmitry Paliyenka awarded 2-year suspended sentence, released in courtroom Updated
The court of Centraĺny district of Minsk announced today its verdict in the case of activist Dzmitry Paliyenka, who was charged with beating a traffic policeman during the Critical Mass cycling protest on April 29. Later, he also faced "pornography" charges.
Judge Valery Yesman found Paliyenka guilty under Article 364 of the Criminal Code ("violence or threat of violence against a law enforcement officer") and Part 2, Article 343 of the Criminal Code ("manufacture and distribution of pornographic materials or pornographic items") and sentenced him to 2 years of suspended imprisonment.
The activist has been released in the courtroom, but the sentence will be suspended for two years.
Such penalties were requested by the public prosecutor, Aleh Yurkevich.
Before the trial, Dzmitry Paliyenka spent five months in detention.
Pavel Sapelka, lawyer of the Human Rights Center "Viasna", who closely followed the course of the criminal proceedings in court, says that the evidence presented during the trial lacks seriousness:
“The prosecutor’s speech in court clearly reflected the lack of sufficient and conclusive evidence in the criminal case. There was no evidence either in the episode of alleged violence against a police officer or the charges related to the distribution of pornographic material on the Internet.
I remain convinced that the charges were directly linked to the activist’s exercising of his civil and political rights."
Human rights defender Valiantsin Stefanovich said in his commentary that Viasna’s views on the criminal case remained unchanged.
“We believe that instead of fulfilling their positive obligations to promote freedom of peaceful assembly exercised by Paliyenka and other participants in the Critical Mass event, the authorities used disproportionate violence against several detained protesters, who were beaten during and after detention.
In this regard, we believe that the prosecution of Dzmitry Paliyenka is directly connected with the implementation of his guaranteed constitutional rights and freedoms.
We welcome the modesty displayed by the authorities in respect of Paliyenka, as his sentence does not involve deprivation of liberty. However, this sentence underlines the need for reforming the legislation governing the implementation of constitutional rights, including freedom of peaceful assembly,” Stefanovich said.