Instead of jail time, an Alberta judge sentenced Pastor Artur Pawlowski to a $23,000 fine, probation, community service, and restrictions on what he may post online.
According to LifeSite News, despite the request from the province's health authority, an Alberta court opted not to send the Canadian Christian pastor back to prison for almost a month.
They were in court to hear Justice Adam Germain's judgment on the charges against Pawlowski and his brother Dawid for hosting worship services at their Calgary Cave of Adullam church in the spring of 2021.
Dawid received a $10,000 fine, one year of probation, and the same prohibition from questioning COVID health directives as his brother. The Pawlowski brothers reportedly have three-and-a-half years to make good on their financial obligations.
On Wednesday, Germain agreed to consider the three-day prison term served by the Pawlowskis in the spring of 2021 as time already spent in jail.
In spite of the fact that Pastor Artur received no prison time, the judge, according to court reporters, ordered him to refrain from openly criticizing COVID health orders, especially on social media.
A timeline of events
Pastor Artur, a Polish immigrant, made worldwide news in the spring of 2021 when he drove away the police and health inspectors who paid two unscheduled health inspections to his church, calling them "Gestapo" and "Nazis."
In May, Pastor Artur and Dawid were arrested on a highway in Calgary for conducting worship services during COVID lockdowns. A three-night prison sentence preceded their release.
According to LifeSite News, although Section 176 of the Criminal Code of Canada makes it illegal to disrupt a church service and to arrest an "officiant" on their way home from worship, churches in Alberta were previously subject to lockdown regulations setting severe capacity limitations.
In June, a judge decided that AHS had shown that the brothers were culpable of contempt of court "beyond a reasonable doubt." This happened after the brothers violated an injunction prohibiting them from holding religious services.
Pastor Artur was sentenced to 21 days in prison in July after Alberta Health Services (AHS) accused him of "openly" flouting COVID regulations.
To go along with the pastor's 21-day prison sentence, AHS attorney John Siddons argued in September that the defendant should also be penalized $2,000 and have to pay $15,000 in legal fees. He also suggested that Dawid spend 10 days in prison.
Pastor Artur showed up virtually in court for the hearing in September to contest the impending prison sentence. He informed the judge that he was a "political prisoner of conscience" in the courtroom.
On his way back to Calgary after a tour of the United States, Pastor Artur was detained by customs authorities for alleged offenses that took place months earlier.
When Pastor Artur was on his Courageous Faith tour last summer, he told stories to audiences about his run-ins with law enforcement and health authorities as a result of not abiding by local COVID regulations.