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Court to Review Case of Insult against Public Officials

06.06.2016 Source: Press service of BAJ Story: Defamation

On June 3, the Minsk City Court heard the cassation appeal of 79-year old Aliaksandr Lapitski who had been found guilty of insulting public officials and sentenced to psychiatric treatment.

On April 12, the Frunzenski district court of Minsk found Aliaksandr Lapitski guilty according to articles 368, 369 and 361 of the Criminal Code of Belarus (public insult against the president, public officials and judges while performing professional duties). Aliaksandr Lapitski had been sending lots of letters addressed to the president of Belarus, judges and other public officials. The court exempt him from serving the penalty stating that the 79-year old Minsk city resident accomplished the actions in the state of inadequacy. Lapitski was assigned to psychiatric treatment. The court also made a special ruling to TUT.by demanding to delete Aliaksandr Lapitski’s e-mail box.

The lawyer Natallia Matskevich considers the ruling in appeal as positive. The defendant was present during the appeal, but did not speak. The date of review is expected to be announced within a month.

Aleh Volchak, head of the organization Legal Aid to People (Ukraine) gave a comment on the case, telling that the appeal court admitted that the case had been heard superficially.

“The defense proved that the first instance court failed to see sufficient evidence of Lapitski’s guilt; the defense also contested the medical ruling about inadequacy of the defendant. Our view is that the case should be closed at all, because there had been some mistakes that are impossible to correct. The investigation failed to find the originals of the letters that Lapitski had allegedly sent to state bodies. It is unclear how they had been sent, from what IP-address, if the e-mail box belonged to Lapitski himself.”

Aleh Volchak draws a parallel between the case of Lapitski and a new administrative case of an internet user tried for insulting a public official in a comment in a social network.