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Police Officers or Bandits?

21.09.2011

Giorgi Nikabadze, Adjara

“In Georgia, police officers do not accept bribes but Georgian police officers misappropriate strange properties. And corresponding institutions do not investigate similar facts,” said Vazha Mzhavanadze, who applied to the Human Rights Center for help.

Vazha Mzhavanadze alleged that law enforcement officers breach the rights of his family. After the Center got interested in the fact, their opponent – head of Adjara police department Emzar Surmanidze threatened the Center’s journalist with imprisonment.

Vazha Mzhavanadze blames former detective-investigator of the detective division of the Adjara main police department Emzar Surmanidze in misappropriation of his family property. Currently, Surmanidze occupies position of the head of Ajdara police department II.

More precisely, Mzhavanadze said the police officer misappropriated his 4 cube meters of wooden materials (door, bulkhead and shelves from the bungalow next to Kobuleti based restaurant Kurzali, which was registered on his brother-in-law’s name). Additional, he alleges that Surmanidze compelled him to buy 10 liters of fuel for his service car.

Vazha Mzhavanadze: “When talking with investigators I have impression that I speak with robbers and bandits. When I entered Surmanidze’s office, he took my sun-glasses out of my shirt pocket without asking permission saying – you are a sailor and you can buy another one, so give it to me as a present. Later, during other meetings he compelled me to invite him to a restaurant twice. I bought 10 liter of fuel for his office car to go to Kobuleti Court. It is corruption!”

Vazha and Zaza Mzhavanadze appealed to law enforcement agencies several times and requested investigation of the facts but in vain. Moreover, on June 1, 2011 Aleksandre Putkaradze - chief investigator of the anti-corruption investigative division of the Adjara prosecutor’s office – replied to them: “According to obtained materials, the facts you mention in your application do not contain criminal character. So, we think investigation of this fact is unreasonable.”

Chief investigator of the anti-corruption investigative division made the decision after he talked with applicant Zaza Mzhavanadze on the phone: “How do you do, guy? What kind of applications are you filing to my office?”

Relationship between Mzhavanadzes and investigation started on April 19, 2010 when Zaza Mzhavanadze was arrested under Article 236 Part I of the Criminal Code of Georgia – unlawful purchase and possession of firearms. Later, Zaza Mzhavanadze signed plea-agreement. Before that, conclusion of the forensic-ballistic expertise stated that the German gun with smooth barrel of the so-called paradox type belonged to the weapon with screw barrels.

“During the investigation process they offered us to cooperate with them and after plea-agreement we would have been able to purchase the gun at the auction. Later, they said certain governmental official got interested in the gun so the expertise conclusion was fabricated: as if the gun did not belong to the category of the firearms with smooth barrels. According to the alternative expertise of the Samkharauli National Bureau of Forensic Expertise gun L.SCHIWY BERLIN S. W. 68 belongs to the category of Paradox Type Hunting Guns. Various literature and special sources prove that paradox type guns belong to the category with smooth barrels. The manufacture sign on the gun S.W. 68 also proves it. The worst point is that they shot military bullet from the gun instead hunting one so it was damaged. Investigation and court did not rely on the corresponding literature and investigation experts could not find any source to present valid counter-arguments,” said Vazha Mzhavanadze.

The Mzhavanadzes, brothers, are members of the hunters’ forum. They said the firearm is very expensive. “At the London International Auction it can be sold even for 100 000 USD. So, certain governmental official is keen to get hold of the gun. It was produced in 1920s by German craftsman Ludwig Schiff and there are only 10-12 examples of this gun in the world.”

The Mzhavanadzes intended to assign the gun to the State Museum. They sent several letters to the President of Georgia but their petitions to the president’s administration and Constitutional Security Department remained without responds.

The Human Rights Center met Emzar Surmanidze to clear up the situation but the latter called the Center’s journalist provocateur and threatened her with imprisonment. Corresponding audio-recording can prove the fact.

Maka Malakmadze, coordinator of the Human Rights Center’s Adjara office, journalist: “When Surmanidze found out the purpose of my visit, he refused to talk with us as if he had meeting with an elderly citizen. Then he left office and ordered me to leave his room. In the corridor he told me loudly: “You are provocateur and I will put you in prison because you are committing crime. I have investigated many facts and if you start investigation now, I wish you good luck… You are a young girl and somebody has misled you! What kind of questions shall I answer?! Who are you? You are breaching law; you are a provocateur and I will arrest you for it! We will meet each other somewhere in future!”

After the threatening conversation Emzar Surmanidze got into his car and left area but before leaving inquired about journalist’s background information.

The Human Rights Center calls upon the law enforcement bodies to properly investigate the criminal action of Emzar Surmanidze – unlawful appropriation of strange property; additionally, they should investigate the fact of journalist’s intimidation and respond to them properly.

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