Andrzej Poczobut

journalist, Polish minority activist, sentenced to 8 years of enhanced-security colony

Date of birth: 16 April 1973

Date of detention: 25 March 2021

Charges indicted:

Art. 361 of the Criminal Code — Calls for actions aimed at causing harm to the national security of the Republic of Belarus
Art. 130 of the Criminal Code — Incitement to hatred

Sentence: 8 years

Penalty: imprisonment in a medium-security penal colony

Prison sentence start date: 26 May 2023

Judge: Dzmitryi Bubenchyk

Prison: Penal colony No. 1

Godparent: Robert Biedroń, member of the European Parliament

On the list of “terrorists” (money transfers are prohibited)

Andrzej Poczobut is a journalist and a member of the Union of Poles in Belarus.

Poczobut was detained on March 25, 2021, in Hrodna. After a long search at his house, he was taken to the Investigative Committee in Minsk, where the interrogation took place. He was left in custody in remand prison #1 in Minsk as a suspect in a criminal case under Part 3 of Article 130 of the Criminal Code ('Deliberate actions committed by a group of persons to incite national or religious enmity and hatred, based on national, religious or linguistic affiliation, and deliberate actions committed to rehabilitate Nazism'). Later, he was transferred to remand prison #8 in Žodzina, Minsk region.

The indictment against the journalist states that Poczobut described the attack of the USSR against Poland in 1939 as aggression in the media. Besides, he was charged with statements in defense of the Polish minority in Belarus, articles for the Polish media Gazeta Wyborcza about the Belarusian protests in 2020, and a text, written in 2006 for the Polish media Magazyn Polski, about Anatol Radzivonik, a Polish anti-communist underground commander in Hrodna. It is also known that in the fall of 2021, Poczobut refused to write a petition for clemency to Lukashenka.

In mid-August 2022, Poczobut started studying the case file. It became known that the political prisoner was also charged under Part 3 of Article 361 of the Criminal Code ('Calls for restrictive measures (sanctions) aimed at harming the national security of Belarus').

On October 4, 2022, the KGB added the journalist to the 'List of persons involved in terrorist activities'.

Poczobut has serious health problems, meanwhile, he was placed in solitary confinement (a punishment cell). The correspondence sent to the journalist is blocked, especially in Polish.

The trial was repeatedly postponed: the hearings were scheduled for November 28, then for January 9. The trial began on January 16, 2023, in the Hrodna Regional Court. The prosecutor's office insisted on holding the court sessions behind closed doors.

On February 8, 2023, Judge Dzmitryi Bubenchyk found Poczobut guilty and sentenced him to eight years of imprisonment in an enhanced-security penal colony.

On May 26, 2023, the Supreme Court considered the appeal of the political prisoner. Judge Ihar Liubavitski upheld the verdict and dismissed the complaint.

It became known that Andrzej Poczobut was sent from prison #1 in Hrodna to penal colony #1 in Navapolack, Viciebsk region, to serve his term.

      On June 23, 2023, the Ministry of Internal Affairs added the political prisoner to the "list of extremists".

Mail address: Penal colony No. 1. 211440, Navapolack, vulica Techničnaya 8

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