journalist, Polish minority activist, sentenced to 8 years of enhanced-security colony
Date of birth: 16 April 1973
Date of detention: 25 March 2021
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
Judge: Dzmitryi Bubenchyk
Prison: Prison No. 1
Statement on the status of a political prisoner
Godparent: Robert Biedroń, member of the European Parliament
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 Art. 130 of the Criminal Code ('Deliberate actions commitment by a group of persons to incite national, religious enmity and enmity based on national, religious, 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 Art. 361 of the Criminal Code ('Calls for restrictive measures (sanctions) aimed at harming 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 a solitary confinement (a punishment cell). The correspondence sent to the journalist is actually blocked, especially that 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.