The Belarusian Supreme Court is set to hear the appeal of Andrzej Poczobut, a prominent journalist and leader of the Polish minority, who has been serving an eight-year prison sentence. The closed-door hearing is scheduled for Friday, following the argument that the initial trial also took place under similar circumstances.
Imprisonment of an Activist
Andrzej Poczobut, a dedicated activist associated with the now-delegalized Union of Poles in Belarus (ZBP), has been held in custody since March 2021. Poland has fervently demanded his unconditional release, accusing the Belarusian regime of fabricating charges of “inciting actions to harm Belarus.”
The Lower Court Ruling
In its ruling on February 8, the lower court concluded that Poczobut had deliberately engaged in “actions aimed at inciting hostility and hatred on national, religious, and social grounds.” This decision drew international attention and raised concerns about the state of freedom of expression and minority rights in Belarus.
Following the announcement of Poczobut’s sentence, Poland responded by closing the crucial Bobrowniki crossing with Belarus. Subsequently, the country imposed additional transport restrictions, vowing to lift them only upon Poczobut’s release.
Poczobut’s case has garnered widespread international concern over human rights abuses in Belarus. Many countries and human rights organizations have voiced their support for the journalist and have urged the Belarusian authorities to ensure a fair and transparent appeal process.
As the Belarusian Supreme Court prepares to review Andrzej Poczobut’s appeal, the case continues to draw attention to the treatment of Polish minority activists and freedom of expression in Belarus. The outcome of this hearing will undoubtedly have broader implications for the relationship between Belarus and Poland, as well as international perceptions of Belarus’ commitment to human rights and the rule of law.