MYORY, Belarus -- An independent Belarusian journalist detained on his way to cover an opposition gathering was found guilty today of verbally insulting police and fined 105,000 rubles ($20), RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.
Kastus Shytal was arrested on October 7 as he was traveling to the eastern town of Myory to cover the opposition People's Assembly in the nearby town of Dzisna the following day.
Traffic police stopped the car in which Shytal was travelling and told him that his appearance was identical to that of a man suspected of breaking into a car.
Police then took him to Myory, where he was questioned
about "verbally insulting the police." Police claim that Shytal used foul language and refused to show his identification when asked.
Shytal spent almost 48 hours in pretrial detention before his trial began on October 10.
Shytal pleaded not guilty and demanded the traffic police who detained him and claim he insulted them be brought to the courtroom to testify.
Judge Vadzim Drabysheuski agreed to that request and adjourned the hearing until today.
Shytal said his case is politically motivated. He said the local authorities wanted him isolated so he would not be able to cover the People's Assembly in Dzisna for the independent online news portal westki.info. Shytal says he will appeal the verdict.
The Dzisna gathering was one of several People's Assembly meetings that were held across Belarus that day.
Read more in Belarusian here