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MINSK -- A court in Minsk has sentenced a man to two years and eight months in prison for beating a homosexual man so badly that he has been in a coma.

But the court on January 13 rejected calls for Zmitser Lukashevich to be imprisoned for a homophobic hate crime.

Instead, Lukashevich was convicted of unintentionally inflicting health damage to Mikhail Pishcheuski, who has remained in a coma since Lukashevich severely beat him in May 2014.

The ruling came at a retrial in the case.

Lukashevich received the same sentence last year, but the prosecutor of Minsk's Central District demanded a retrial, saying the attack was a homophobic hate crime.

However, a different prosecutor at the retrial on January 12 did not ask for the attack to be classified as a hated crime.

Witnesses testified at the retrial testified that Lukashevich attacked Pishcheuski after loudly insulting him about his homosexuality.

Pishcheuski's relatives said after the sentencing that they will not appeal the court's decision.

MINSK -- The Pershamay District Court in Belarusian capital, Minsk, has rejected an appeal by a rights advocate who has been ordered to leave Belarus.

Yelena Tonkachyova, a Russian citizen who heads the Lawtrend Legal Transformation Center, must now leave Belarus.

Tonkachyova has lived in Belarus since 1985.

She was officially informed on October 30 that her residence permit had been annulled and was ordered in November to leave the country for three years.

Lawtrend is a nongovernmental organization that promotes freedom of expression, freedom of association, and the right of access to information, justice, and a fair trial.

It has been operating in Minsk since 1996.

Tonkachyova says she has no place to stay in Russia because her relatives are all Belarusian citizens.

She has three days to appeal to an upper court over the lower court’s January 13 ruling against her.

With reporting by BelaPAN

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