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TUT.BY editor-in-chief fined in BelTA case

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TUT.BY editor-in-chief Maryna Zolatava / Еuroradio

On 4 February, Minsk's Zavodski District Court pronounced the verdict in the high-profile 'BelTA case.' TUT.BY editor-in-chief Maryna Zolatava was found guilty of 'inaction by an official' under Article 425 (2) of Criminal Code and sentenced to a fine of 300 base rates or BYN7650 (approx. $3570). The prosecutor had asked the court to award a fine of 1000 base rates. Zolatava is also to compensate BYN6000 that BelTA spent on their lawyers. It means she has to be pay a total of $6381 according to the National Bank exchange rate.

In her last word, Zolatava admitted that she should have acted promptly when she learned that one of the staff had accessed BelTA's paid newsfeed without susbscription. She added that she had never ordered anyone to use BelTA's paid news feed without authorization.

The 'BelTA's case' was opened in August 2018 when agents raided the offices of TUT.BY, BelaPAN and several other media as well as the flats of their editors and journalists. Over a dozen media workers were detained and charged with unauthorized access to the paid news feed of state-run news agency BelTA. The authorities later dropped criminal charges against 14 suspects in the case and punished them in the administrative proceedings. They were fined and ordered to compensate the damages to BelTA. Each of them paid between BYN 3000 and 17000).

Zolatava had requesed to replace criminal prosecution with the administrative proceedings but the Investigative Committee rejected her appeal.

Anastasia Boika / Euroradio