Election committee member who hit Korabelov.info reporter with a bench exempted from punishment
The Korabelivsky district court of Mykolaiv found a teacher of comprehensive school #48 guilty of obstructing the legal work of a journalist and imposed a UAH 850 fine, while exempting him from this punishment at the same time. This is stated in the April 6 court ruling, "Sudovy Reporter" writes.
On May 25, 2014, the "Korabelov.info" news agency correspondent was working at the polling station located in the school – namely, recording the elections on camera.
However, the accused, being a member of the committee, demanded that the journalist stop filming and threatened to break her camera. Seeing that the journalist continued filming, he stood up and deliberately shoved the hand she holding the camera in with his shoulder. The man started arguing with the reporter and covering the camera lens with his hand. Then he grabbed a bench and deliberately hit the journalist on the legs with it. Ignoring the requests of those present, he hit the journalist again, trying to damage the camera, thus persistently and deliberately obstructing her professional work for a continuous time, according to the court ruling.
As per Part 1 of Art. 307 of the Civil Code of Ukraine, a person's consent to be photographed, filmed, televised or videotaped is assumed if the filming is being carried out openly on the street, at meetings, conferences, rallies, and other public events.
Over ten witnesses were questioned in court: election committee memebers and observers at the presidential elections of Ukraine, as well as a policeman who was keeping order. They confirmed that there had been a conflict that evening. The journalist allegedly remained at the polling station after the voting ended, and a member of the committee complained that she was interfering with the vote counting.
At the trial, the accused said that the reporter had provoked him deliberately, striving to get so-called hot news and disrupt the election process. He allegedly pushed the camera by accident and also inadvertently touched her leg when he was fixing up the benches.
However, the court was critical of the defense's account of the events. The case file contains a video recording from the reporter's camera. The video shows that after a short verbal argument, the man suddenly turns around and shoves the camera held by the journalist with his shoulder. The accused approaches the victim himself and hits the camera. Next, he turns to the committee, demanding that the rerporter be removed from the precinct. No actions indicating that the journalist had been interfering with the election committee member's work were recorded.
The court found the accused guilty under Part 1 of Art. 171 of the Criminal Code, the man was assigned punishment in the form of a fine, up to six months of arrest, or restriction of freedom for up to three years.
The events in question took place in 2014, therefore the time limit for criminal prosecution for such actions has expired.
The perpetrator could have been brought to justice within three years. The case was submitted to court on January 30, 2017, four months before the end of this term.
In the process, the judges changed several times. The Korabelivsky District Court of Mykolaiv filed three appeals with relation to the jurisdiction changes, which allegedly happened due to the lack of judges who have the right to try this case.
As IMI reported, the case is about the attack on Natalia Belova, a reporter from the online media "Korabelov.info", which was committed in Mykolaiv on May 25, 2014. A member of the precinct election committee No. 480800, located in secondary school No. 48 (Korabelivsky district), tried to prevent her from recording the vote counting process on video.
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