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1.04.2014

Cassation court upholds ban on Ales Bialiatski's book

14:29, — Politics

Cassation court upholds ban on Ales Bialiatski's book

The Hrodna regional court heard the appeal by Tatsiana Raviaka on March 31 and upheld the decision to ban Ales Bialiatski's book Enlightened by Belarus.

Human rights defender Tatsiana Raviaka, who filed the appeal against the decision of the Ashmiany district court, says it took only three minutes for the panel of judges for civil cases to announce their verdict. It looks that the decision was made beforehand. Chief judge Viachaslau Mikhnevich behaved aggressively and rudely. He did not allow the applicants to speak in full and convey their views to the court, Viasna human rights centre reports.

It is the first time I've met such rudeness in a court. Judge Mikhnevich interrupted me, asked questions and didn't give opportunities to answer. He behaved in an emotional and even inadequate way sometimes. This behaviour of the judge demonstrate both the low legal level and the biased attitude to the case, Tatsiana Raviaka says. The court did not listen to our arguments, because it didn't see sense in it. The judge didn't want to evaluate the appeal in what concerns the damage the book could cause to political or economic interests, state security, health and morality of people. He reduced everything to the point if the copies of the book seized from me were for my personal use or not, though the main point in the decision to re-export the book was that the book was 'harmful', regardless of the purpose for which it was imported to Belarus."

Lawyer Pavel Sapelka, who represented Tatsiana Raviaka's interests, said that the applicants were deprived of their rights.

We could have tried to influence the court, but the law does not protect us. We could have been brought to account for contempt of court. The court, for some reason, didn't show respect for us and didn't listen to our legally grounded arguments. The law doesn't provide responsibility for a court disregarding applicants, Pavel Sapelka said. The court made its superficial decision, perhaps, because it didn't hear everything we said. However, the people, who attended the trial, understood what we wanted to say.

The first appeal heard by the cassation court was the appeal against the decision on Ales Bialiatski's book. The courtroom was full of of people awaiting for the consideration of their civil cases.

We received a lot of moral support from the audience, Tatsiana Reviaka says. The people listened to us with interest. We saw they were happy to hear applicants responding to the rudeness of the court. Besides, the people who are familiar with judge Mikhnevich said he usually did not behave like that.

The grounds for the upholding of the appeal will be given in the court's ruling. The applicants can study the document in five days in the court of the Ashmiany district.


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