16:42, Tuesday, 22.09.2020
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Two More Witnesses of Journalist’s Dragging into Tianeti Police Station

Two more witnessed confirmed that on May 20, Tianeti district police officers detained and dragged journalist Gela Mtivlishvili into the police office. The witnesses gave testimonies to the representatives of the Transparency International – Georgia.

The lawyer of the TI-Georgia Zurab Gvelesiani told the ICK that they had interviewed both witnesses separately but their stories were equal.

“Initially we interviewed Rusudan Sisauri who had witnessed the incident from the very beginning. We also conversed with two more people who do not want their names published due to security matters. However, they confirmed Gela Mtivlishvili’s story with us,” Zurab Gvelesiani said.

He said they could not find any person in Tianeti who could say anything different from Gela Mtivlishvili’s story.

“One of our witnesses confirmed that Mtivlishvili was dragged into the police office; the second person recalled that police officers approached him and soon their conversation turned into quarrel. However, those people do not know what happened inside the police office. One of the witnesses confirmed that police officer was speaking on the cell-phone and receiving instructions from somebody. We also find third witness who changed his mind to give testimony to us at the last moment due to security matters,” the lawyer said.

Program director of the TI-Georgia Nina Khatiskatsi said the organization had sent lawyers to Tianeti district to answer the government’s questions. Khatiskatsi said the governmental officials were not satisfied with the story of only one witness.

“We sent lawyers there to find out the situation and to find new witnesses. The lawyers found two witnesses who do not want to publish their names. We wanted to find some other witnesses too, because government officials suggested us to interrogate some other people too with different position, but we could not find similar witnesses. Unfortunately, our witnesses cannot openly speak about the incident,” Nina Khtiskatsi told the ICK.

We kindly remind you that on May 20, head of Information Centers of Kakheti and Mtskheta-Mtianeti and  journalist Gela Mtivlishvili was detained when he was taking photos of the Tianeti police station. The police officers dragged the journalist into the police station by force, kicked him several times, seized his camera, erased photo and video footage of the incident and kept him in the police office for almost one hour. The detention of Gela Mtivlishvili was supervised by deputy head of Tianeti police office Mamuka Shalamberidze. The latter physically assaulted the journalist. After the incident, medical emergency brigade took Mtivlishvili to local hospital where doctors diagnosed he had bruises on the head and brain concussion. Prosecutor’s office has not started investigation of the incident yet.

Lana Beridze, for ICK, Tbilisi

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