Two journalists were sentenced to two years in prison in Belarus for reporting on a demonstration against President Lukashenko. For having broadcast the demonstration live, they were accused of having contributed to the organization of the demonstration.
In today’s verdict, the women huddled in their cage in front of the courtroom and gave the V sign to those present. Their lawyer said they would appeal the verdict.
“This is a political verdict, intended to dissuade journalists from reporting on important developments in the country,” replied the Belarusian media union. “This amounts to a professional ban.”
The two Belarusians, 27 and 23, were arrested in November when they filmed a demonstration for Polish channel Belsat after the death of an anti-Lukashenko protester a few days earlier. The 31-year-old is believed to have died after being assaulted by police, which the government denies.
The country has been unstable since President Lukashenko was re-elected in a controversial election in August. It is reported that 33,000 people have since been arrested, including hundreds of journalists. Proceedings have been initiated against a dozen journalists.
Polish President Duda has asked Belarus for an amnesty for those arrested and said the country should respect civil rights and freedom of expression.