For two days, the Pershamayski district court was hearing the case of Ales Liubianchuk, cameraman of Belsat who was detained at the office of Belsat on the day of searches. Judge Yury Harbatouski fined the reporter for 25 b.a. (575 BYN) allegedly for speaking obscene language at the police department.
Ales Liubianchuk was charged with art. 17.1 (minor hooliganism). Two police officers accused him of cursing at them at the police department. The reporter strongly disagrees with the charges and with the court decision.
On March 31, Ales Liubianchuk, an accredited cameraman of TVP (Poland), was detained at the office of Belsat when the police came to search the office of Belsat in Minsk in relation with the dispute over Belsat trade mark. The cameraman was involved as a witness and was taken to the police department to give testimony. He spent almost all day long with the police officers Padrez and Hryb.
On the first day of the trial, only the journalist gave testimony, as the police officers did not appear in court. The reporter underlined that he had requested for a lawyer several times, which was denied to him at that moment. In the evening, the two police officers charged him with minor hooliganism, art. 17.1. The reporter was supposed to spend that weekend at the detention facility, but was suddenly released on the evening of March 31.
The reporter said that he was accused “because officer Padrez did not hear from me what he wanted to hear in the case on Belsat trade mark. He insisted on me signing the report of questioning with which I disagreed.”
Today, the policemen confirmed their testimonies in court. They both said that Liubianchuk behaved uneasy and cursed at the police department. To many questions, the policemen replied that they did not remember the details of the day, because they dealt with such incidents regularly.
The charge of minor hooliganism is typical for penalizing journalists and public activists. In March, at least seven journalists were charged with speaking foul language in public, which falls under minor hooliganism article 17.1. Among them Aliaksandr Barazenka who served a 15 days’ term allegedly for cursing; the audio of detention showed quite the opposite – he did speak anything but that he was a journalist. But even the audio did not help.