New details in the first-ever public trial on the basis of hostility to gay people in Belarus. Due to the changing circumstances on the criminal case of Mikhail Pishcheusky, who has got grave bodily injuries after the gay-party in May 2014, which caused his death later, the court revised its previous verdict.
The accused 32-year-old Dmitry Lukashevich was found guilty for hooliganism and manslaughter, and received three years sentence in prison. Immediately following the verdict announced by the judge Victoria Shabunia on July 28, 2016, Lukashevich was taken into custody in the courtroom. A term of imprisonment is taking into account the period already served.
It is to be recalled that, Pishcheusky was beaten black and blue by Dzmitry Lukashevich on the grounds of homophobia. The incident took place on May 25, 2014 near the night club in Minsk, where Mikhail and his friends were relaxing at a private gay party. The medical team found the victim in a critical state — skull fracture and brain hemorrhage were diagnosed, resulting in urgent surgery for removing of approximately 20% of Mikhail’s brain, one month of coma, and more than a year of struggling for life. Mikhail Pishcheuski died in the hospital on October 27, 2015.
Being the first-ever public trial on the basis of hostility to gay people in Belarus, the story has caused a public outcry in the country, and has been actively discussed in Belarusian independent media and social networks. The court, however, ignored this hot-potato issue, as well as homophobic abuse and threats on the part of the defendant in the courtroom.
It is noteworthy that, users of social networks and Internet forums, usually stinging, or even aggressive when discussing topics related to sexual orientation, this time focused on the fact of social intolerance and inconsistency of crime and punishment.
On October 16, 2014 Central City District Court in Minsk has found Lukashevich guilty for hooliganism (Art. 339, part 1 of the Criminal Code of Belarus) and grave bodily injury committed through negligence (Art. 155 of the Criminal Code of Belarus), and sentenced him to two years and eight months in a correctional colony. Also, the accused was obliged to pay moral damages to the victim in the amount of Br100M rubles (approx. EUR 7,400).
The relatives of the victim appealed against the relatively lenient punishment. But the second court, held on January 13, 2015, left the sentence unchanged, yet the prosecutor has requested 7 years of imprisonment. However, the amount of moral damages was increased to Br213M rubles.
Referring to human rights defender Tatsiana Reviaka‘s opinion, “the prosecutors did not take into account very important details.”
For instance, the alcoholic intoxication of the convicted was announced as the only aggravating factor on the case. At the same time, the court disregarded the fact that the crime was committed on the ground of hate and intolerance towards sexual orientation.
It should be pointed out that, Mikhail has never been an open gay person. The topic of his private life has been open to his close friends only. Mikhail’s relatives didn’t know anything about his sexuality before the accident. He was just a caring son to his mother, a loving brother to his sister, and a darling Godfather to his sister’s two kids.
At the beginning, Mikhail’s parents and friends did not want to announce the details of the case and publish the story in order to avoid the condemnation from the neighbours, friends and the society, in general. The turning point happened, when Mikhail came out of the coma, thus, bringing a hope to return him to life.
Dmitry Lukashevich has spend only 11 month in prison and was released under the amnesty on August 20, 2015.
He got the job as an operator of the machine with computer control in a private company, where he have been employed before the incident in May, 2014.
The victim’s death as a consequence of the sustained bodily injuries caused the revision of the criminal case. Also, the relatives of the victim have demanded already from Lukashevich to pay as compensation for moral damage Br200K denominated rubles.
This time, Lukashevich was accused for hooliganism and manslaughter (Art. 339, part 1 and Art. 1, Art. 144 of the Criminal Code of Belarus respectively). Although, the accused pleaded not guilty and did not admit the claim for compensation, the third court sentenced him to three years’ imprisonment and obliged to provide the compensation for moral harm in the amount of Br20K rubles (approx. EUR 4,600).