Andrzej Poczobut, a correspondent of „Gazeta Wyborcza” newspaper and an activist of the independent Union of Poles in Belarus, went straight home. Today’s trial ended unexpectedly with a three years sentence suspended for two years.
Poczobut’s trial began in March 28, 2011, at the court in Grodno. The charges alleged slander against the country’s president Alexander Lukashenko. The reporter of “Gazeta Wyborcza” committed a supposed offence in 8 articles published in the polish newspaper, on belaruspartisan.org portal, and on the author’s blog during the Belarusian presidential election. After his arrest on April 4, 2011, he has been held in custody. This finale of the trial, which lasted more than a month, did surprise everyone, including Poczobut himself: “I didn’t expect that today I would be released. I thought that I would get several years of prison. […] The verdict is a consequence of exerting pressure on the regime, the economic sanctions. All Alexander Lukashenko understands is force, and by force only he could be made to respect civil rights,” said Poczobut after leaving the courtroom.
About Andrzej Poczobut’s release:
Maja Kocijanczicz, Catherne Ashton’s spokeswoman: “We appeal to Belarusian government for stopping oppressions of independent media.”
Aksana Poczobut, journalist’s wife, for Gazeta Wyborcza: “I hope this is finally the end”.
Agnieszka Romaszewska, director of the Belsat TV, on facebook: “No one is impervious to pressure. Poczobut released. Given 3 years with a 2-years respite!!!!! Free. Hooray!!!!!!”
Radosław Sikorski, the Polish Minister of Foreign affairs, via twitter: “Andrzej Poczobut in a good condition. Great luck to go back to the family instead of the prison camp. Prisoners’ rehabilitation would start BY-EU dialogue.”