Belarus Opens Trial of Journalist for Prominent Polish Paper

TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — Belarus on Monday opened the trial of a journalist and distinguished member of the rustic’s sizable Polish minority, the most recent in a chain of courtroom circumstances in opposition to critics of the authoritarian regime of President Alexander Lukashenko.

Andrzej Poczobut, 49, faces as much as 12 years in jail if convicted of the costs of harming nationwide safety and inciting discord. Poczobut, a journalist for the influential Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza and a most sensible determine within the Union of Poles in Belarus, has been in the back of bars since his detention in March 2021.

He broadly lined main protests that gripped Belarus for weeks in 2020 following a presidential election that gave Lukashenko, in energy since 1994, a brand new time period in place of business, however that was once broadly seemed by means of the opposition and Western nations as fraudulent.

The trial within the western town of Grodno was once closed to impartial reporters and Western diplomats, however pictures from the court urged that Poczobut has misplaced vital weight whilst in custody.

In Poland a spokesman for the federal government, Piotr Mueller, mentioned that in spite of “a lot of diplomatic efforts, sadly, we don’t have any further gear that might lend a hand on this space” of political freedom in Belarus. He mentioned it was once a “scandalous scenario.”

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Mueller advised a information convention in Warsaw that Poland will proceed diplomatic efforts to modify the location.

“However we all know rather well that at this level government in Belarus are without delay related to Russia and that they’re pursuing an outlined coverage that counters now not simplest Poland however all of the democratic space that holds human rights as most sensible state priorities,” Mueller mentioned.

Poland’s Overseas Ministry mentioned it met the details about Poczobut’s trial with “unhappiness” and mentioned the costs are “unfaithful and politically motivated.”

The ministry appealed for Poczobut’s unlock and mentioned his imprisonment constituted ”every other instance of the instrumental use of the justice device in opposition to any and all democratic requirements and a component within the anti-Polish marketing campaign pursued by means of the government of Belarus.”

Within the japanese Polish town of Bialystok, some 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the border with Belarus, a gaggle of protesters representing Belarusian diaspora and human rights organizations collected sooner than the Belarusian consulate to call for freedom for Poczobut and different political prisoners.

The 2020 protests in Belarus had been the biggest and maximum sustained within the nation. Government spoke back to the demonstrations with a crackdown that noticed greater than 35,000 other people arrested, hundreds crushed by means of police and dozens of media retailers and nongovernmental organizations close.

This month, Belarus put human rights activist Ales Bialiatski, a co-winner of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize, on trial for financing protests. Any other trial in opposition to two most sensible figures of the now-banned impartial information portal TUT.BY started final week.

About 300,000 of Belarus’ 10 million individuals are ethnic Poles. The Union of Poles got here underneath govt drive after government accused Poland of seeking to foment an rebellion in opposition to Lukashenko.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This subject material will not be revealed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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