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Lasha Chkhartishvili: „They Detained Me Because of Thinking“

07.07.2011

Sopo Getsadze

Lasha Chkhartishvili from the Conservative Party was detained before the premiere of the Hollywood Movie „Five Days of August“on June 5. The members of the Conservative Party and other activists wanted to protest the pompous presentation of the film about the tragedy in August of 2008 and gathered in front of the parliament of Georgia. Police officers and armed people in civil cloths dismissed the demonstrators.

-Mr. Lasha, how were you detained?

-I was walking in front of the parliament when strangers grabbed my belt and demanded to immediately leave the area. They were talking in a rude tone with me and as far as I remember they even kicked me too. I was there together with Manuchar Sigua and several other people. The strangers did not show any documents to me and did not explain anything to me. I was explaining to them that they did not have right to restrict my movement. In addition, I told them I was going to the opposite side of Kashueti Church. I did not resist them, freed my arm and went towards the Public School # 1. At that moment, they received an order to arrest me and they detained me without any motivations. I said only one phrase: “Down with Saakashvili’s Bloody Dictatorship!” That was all. Finally, people in civil clothes pushed into the patrol police car in Shevchenko Street.

-Had the protest rally already started when you were detained?

-No, we had not started the rally yet. Of course, we were there to start protest demonstration but as far as I know people shall not be arrested for thinking and intentions. Moreover, demonstration is a lawful form of the protest. Although I have been detained during other legal demonstrations, it was first occasion when I was arrested for having thought over and intended the protest demonstration.

-What happened after detention?

-Initially they took me to the April 9 Park; there they put irons on me and then they took me to the police station behind the park. Later, they apparently received directives to take me to the police station nest to the Ortachala office of the MIA. There they started to draw up documents without asking any questions to me. The only thing they asked me was about my job. Then I warned them that I was not going to answer their questions without my lawyer. They drew up documents in another place in my absence. I categorically demanded them to allow me to get in touch with the lawyer but I could not get through the line. Later I again asked for the permission to call the lawyer but the law enforcement officers did not allow me to call him next time. At that moment, they had already seized my cell-phone.

I saw the representative of the Public Movement of IDPs Gia Kardava brought by another patrol police car; short time ago they brought wife and daughter of Irakli Batiashvili. We were sitting in the patrol police cars in the yard.

-What kind of violations was observed during the trial?

-The main and essential violation was committed by the judge who did not satisfy our solicitation on showing the video materials and other proofs. The video-recording completely demonstrated my detention. The Court was biased so they did not accept the video-recording. They said our witnesses were enough to make statements at the trial. So, it was clear the judge was not going to find out real situation. During the court proceeding, the judge tried to stop the lawyer when he was asking questions. Besides, the number of witnesses was artificially reduced from 7 to 4 for unclear reasons. Finally, the Judge passed unfair verdict – sent me to prison for 10 days.

- What happened after the end of the trial?

- After leaving the trial I was made to sign the resolution part of the verdict and then was transferred to Gori – in the preliminary detention cell of Shida Kartli. As it was found out later the lawyer was not informed about my location which is a human rights violation and almost equals to kidnapping. The lawyer, as I know found out about my location by the help of Ombudsman.

- What kinds of violations were made during the imprisonment?

- On the first night I was not prohibited to bring the items which are admissible for the prisoners. I had four packs of cigarettes and a newspaper. I was with three prisoners in the cell. But starting from the next morning, the human rights violations started according to the received order. Ok, there is not basin in the cell; the toilet is open and etc… But additionally, starting from the second day they have been taking vengeance against me. They picked me out and treated me discriminately compared to other prisoners. On the first night they seized three packs of cigarettes then the fourth.

My visitors were prohibited to pass me a cigarette. They would not bring the newspapers and magazines or books sent through the post. They did not allow me to bring clothes, shoes or underwear. I could not receive napkins and this happened when I had no chance of using bathing water. Thus, I did not have opportunity to receive those items which are allowed by local legislation and normative acts. Others received it all. I personally received it. I was not allowed to go out to wash my face or take shower. Others were, as far as I know.

In order to write a complaint I requested to tell me the names of the head of the detention cell. But they refused to name them.

The right of medical care was also violated. I started hunger strike from the first day and informed administration verbally. I had no chance – no pencil, pen or paper to inform them in written form. On the third day after the imprisonment I addressed the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) and the detention cell in the written form through my lawyer. The doctor examined me on the third day. I was sick several times and was not even given medications without the prescription.

What kind of information do you have on the state of prisoners detained in relation with the protest rallies?

- Two protest rally participants were imprisoned with me in Gori – the ones detained on May 22nd and 26th. I found out that Chochishvili was detained too and was in the same building, in another detention cell. They were also treated inhumanly. I know from lawyers and other detainees that there were instances when they were treated disrespectfully. There were facts of physical assault as well.

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