The appellate court effectively upheld the outcome of a October 16 ruling in which the defendant was convicted of «inflicting grievous bodily harm through negligence.»
Police and eyewitnesses testified that on the night of May 25 Lukashevich pummeled 33-year-old Mikhail Pishchewski with his fists after hurling anti-gay slurs at Pishchewski and some friends, who had just emerged from a gay party in a Minsk nightclub.
Lukashevich was arrested moments later, at first having fled, then returning to the scene of the attack.
Prosecutors in both trials were reluctant to contend that this was a hate crime. The only aggravating circumstance considered was that the attacker was intoxicated at the time of the incident.
A spokesman for the victim, Sviatlana, who asked that her last name not be used for fear of homophobic reprisals, said, «It’s obvious that Pishchewski was attacked because he was gay. Lukashevich’s cries preceding the attack and some of his subsequent comments confirm that.»
Defense attorneys said their client felt «threatened» by «the actions and appearance» of the victim but offered no evidence in support of such claims.
«Lukashevich was not acquainted with Pishchewski or his friends and new nothing of their sexual orientation,» said defense attorney Tamara Starazhenka. «They were both drunk.»
Witnesses for the prosecution testified that at the moment of the attack, a startled Pishchewski was looking at his mobile phone.
During court proceedings last week, Lukashevich begged the victim’s parents for forgiveness, acknowledging he had punched their son but did not intend serious injury.
«I returned (to the scene of the attack) because I was concerned about him, and am still concerned,» Lukashevich said to the victims mother, offering also to assist in any way he can with Pischewski’s rehabilitation.
Lukashevich had several years ago been employed in a Minsk high school as a physical education instructor.
Apart from several DYI and public drunkenness arrests, he had no previous record of criminal offenses.
The victims parents, who had sought a stiffer sentence, said they would abandon further efforts at appeal.
Their son remains in a Minsk hospital in a near vegetative state, at times requiring the assistance of breathing and feeding tubes.
Doctors were reportedly forced to remove a large amount of brain tissue to ensure the young man’s survival.