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Journalist's Trial Adjourned In Belarus


A supporter of Andrzej Poczobut holds a newspaper with his portrait in front of the court building in Hrodna on June 28

A supporter of Andrzej Poczobut holds a newspaper with his portrait in front of the court building in Hrodna on June 28

HRODNA, Belarus -- The trial of a prominent Polish-Belarusian journalist charged with insulting Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has been adjourned until next week, when a verdict is expected, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Andrzej Poczobut, who writes for the Polish daily "Gazeta Wyborcza," went on trial on June 14 on charges he insulted the "personal dignity and honor" of Lukashenka in newspaper articles and online comments.

Poczobut's trial is being held behind closed doors in the western city of Hrodna.

His lawyers told journalists outside the courtroom on June 28 that the trial was adjourned until July 5, when Poczobut is expected to give a final statement.

On June 24, the prosecution asked that Poczobut, who is also active in Belarus's Polish community, be jailed for three years.

Poczobut is a Belarusian citizen, an ethnic Pole, and a leading member of the embattled Union of Poles in Belarus (ZPB), a cultural organization that has been trying unsuccessfully for several years to regain official registration in Belarus.

Poczobut's arrest in April sparked anger in Poland, which takes over the European Union's rotating presidency on July 1. Prime Minister Donald Tusk said earlier this month that Poland would use all the EU tools at its disposal to ensure Belarus respects human rights.

In February, Poczobut served a 15-day jail term for participating in an unsanctioned protest in Minsk following Lukashenka's disputed reelection on December 19, 2010.

Poczobut did not deny he was at the protest but insisted he was covering the event as a journalist.

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