Belarus: court jails journalist for “disclosure of medical secrets

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Belarus: court jails journalist for

TUT.BY reporter Katerina Barysievich reported that there was no alcohol in the blood of the deceased demonstrator Raman Bandarenka

A Belarusian court on Tuesday sentenced journalist Katerina Barysievich to six months in jail for disclosing medical secrecy because she denied official statements about the death of a protester who, according to the authorities, was intoxicated.

Barysievich, an employee of the Belarusian news agency TUT.BY, said there was no alcohol in the blood of protester Raman Bandarenka at the time of his death. Officials claimed he was fatally injured in a drunken brawl, while his allies claimed he had been beaten by security forces.

Doctor Artem Sorokin, who shared Bondarenko’s medical report with Borisevich, was sentenced to a suspended prison term.

Authorities said that the disclosure of information about the 31-year-old Bondarenko’s death posed a threat to public safety.

In November, Bandarenka was detained by police in Minsk after a confrontation with unknown people who were removing red and white ribbons, symbols of the opposition, from a fence in his yard.

A few hours later Bondarenko was unconsciously taken from the police station to the emergency hospital, where, according to the police and medics, he died the next day as a result of injuries inflicted by unknown assailants.

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The authorities denied any involvement of the police in his death.

Recently there have been several trials of opposition figures and journalists in Belarus. In February two journalists were sentenced to imprisonment for filming protests.

Michelle Bachelet, UN High Representative for Human Rights, warned of a “human rights crisis” in the country. Belarusian diplomats said their country had been unfairly slandered.

On Tuesday, the Belarusian authorities said they were seeking the extradition of opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who fled to Lithuania after last August’s disputed elections in which she became Alexander Lukashenko’s main rival.