Polish reporter sentenced three-year reprieve for insulting Belarusian president

11:11, July 06, 2011      

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Belarusian court gave Polish newspaper reporter Andrzej Poczobut a three-year suspended sentence on Tuesday after finding him guilty of defaming and insulting Belarusian President Aleksander Lukashenko.

The correspondent for Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza in the city of Grodno near the Polish border was arrested in April on charges of libel and insulting Lukashenko in his articles. Prior to that, the journalist had been kept under house arrest.

The charges were filed for publication in Gazeta Wyborcza web- site of "Belarusian partisan" and the reporter's personal blog. Several dozens of Poczobut's supporters gathered on the street, as he was led into the court building. Media activists saw the trial as a government attempt to scare the independent media.

The reporter was released in the courtroom. Outside the courthouse Poczobut said he would not stop his activism for Polish rights in Belarus, where they are a tiny minority. "The verdict does not change my convictions," Poczobut was quoted as saying outside the court building by the Polish Press Agency.

The trial began on June 14. The European Union, human rights groups and Polish authorities have all spoken out in defense of Poczobut. During the trial a number of international organizations condemned the Belarusian authorities for the handling of the case, which took place behind closed doors.

"It was only thanks to our solidarity that I have been released, " Poczobut told his supporters after being released.

Source: Xinhua
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