Palchys given non-custodial sentence, released in court
Eduard Palchys, the founder of pro-opposition website 1863x.com, was released in court on Friday after a judge imposed a non-custodial sentence on him.
The judge of the Minsk City Court found the young man guilty of inciting racial, ethnic or religious hatred and producing and distributing pornographic material, and sentenced him to a "restricted freedom" term of one year and nine months without his being sent to a correctional institution.
The time Mr. Palchys spent in pretrial detention will be credited toward his sentence. Since each day spent in pretrial detention by a person sentenced to "restricted freedom" counts as two, the actual term of restrictions on his freedom will be around two months.
The public prosecutor had demanded a prison sentence of three and a half years for Mr. Palchys.
Members of the public and reporters were let into the courtroom for the final day of what had previously been a closed-door trial, with the crowd roaring with cheers and chanting "Zhyve Belarus!" (Long Live Belarus!) and "We Believe! We Can! We Will Win!" as the judge delivered the ruling.
Opposition activists demonstrated in solidarity with Mr. Palchys outside the court on all days of the trial.
Mr. Palchys, who turned 26 on October 28, was arrested in Minsk in May last year but was later released on his own recognizance. He fled Belarus and resurfaced in Ukraine in October.
He was arrested in Russia this past January after the Belarusian police placed him on a wanted list, and was later extradited to Belarus.
The charges against Mr. Palchys were linked to his articles on 1863x.com.
Opposition leaders and human rights groups described Mr. Palchys as a political prisoner and demanded his release.