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Charge without Eyewitness


Natia Gogolashvili

Akhaltsikhe district court discusses criminal case launched against Lela Shvelidze, who is charged under Article 125 Paragraph I of the Criminal Code of Georgia that refers to “physical abuse or other violence.” Aspindza resident Zina Zedginidze-Ninua is a victim in the case. Judge Giorgi Londaridze discusses the case. On November 25, monitoring group of Human Rights Center visited the district and attended the trial. 

Lela Shvelidze is Jehovah witness and has lived in Erekle II Street # 10 in Aspindza for one year. The criminal case against her was launched based on the incident of July 3, 2014. According to the accused person, Zina Zedginidze-Ninua attacked her at home and physically and verbally insulted her. Lela Shvelidze called police and Ninua continued insulting her in their presence too.

“Zina Ninua has been insulting, intimidating and persecuting our family for one year already. She several times demanded us to leave the house. She has problem with every neighbor. She has scolded me for my religion several times and told my children that I have wrong life-style. She threatened my children to demand their teacher to prevent them from proceeding in the next grade,” Lela Shvelidze said.

Neighbors also confirmed that Zina Ninua persecutes the family of Shvelidzes. One of them, Eka Gorelishvili said, she several times visited the police office to report about persecution of the Shvelidzes by Zina Ninua but police did not find her report interesting. 

“Zina Ninua persecutes and insults us for no reason. She annoyed my 15-year-old sister so much that now we take her to psychologist and she takes medicines. She scolds, curses and forbids us to invite relatives to our homes; she says they are orthodox and Jehovah witnesses must not live in this neighborhood,” Eka Gorelishvili said. 

Collective letter of the neighbors is enclosed into the case materials, which is signed by 11 persons. According to their letter, Zina Zedginidze-Ninua is particularly aggressive person and permanently persecutes neighbors. “Neighbors living in the dormitory in Erekle II Street in Aspindza are permanently bothered by Zina Zedginidze-Ninua, who is aggressive towards them, scolds and insults both grown-ups and children. She does not allow us to live normally and use short road to walk. We had to endure insulting from her during many years. We never predict which of us will become target of her aggression tomorrow,” the neighbors’ letter reads.

Lela Shvelidze’s lawyer Manuchar Tsimintia said Zina Ninua repeatedly attacked the Shvelidzes on November 11 and tried to physically abuse Lela Shvelidze. The lawyer even showed the video-recording of the incident to the monitors from Human Rights Center. The video shows how Zina Ninua insults and threatens Lela Shvelidze and her child, who was video-recording her behavior by cell phone.

Human Rights Center contacted Zina Ninua. She said Lela Shvelidze physically assaulted her. “Her mother is main reason of it. Her mother has been torturing me for 22 years. When my husband died, I lived in rented flat. For that reason the government settled me in the old flat. Her mother argues me for that and tries to evict me from the flat and settle her second daughter there. They broke into the former building of sport school several months ago and have been persecuting everybody. Lela’s children are following me with video-camera. They abuse me when I am alone at home and neighbors are not here. After I attended the trial as a victim, they lost temper. When they start arguing with me, I cross myself and they get furious for that. They offered me to join Jehovah Witnesses but I refused. Since then they became my enemies and those neighbors, who gave testimonies against me, are also Jehovah witnesses,” Zina Zedginidze-Ninua said.

Lela Shvelidze and her husband clarified that they requested law enforcement bodies to react on Zina Zedgenidze-Ninua’s behavior but in vain. They said the case was launched against Lela Shvelidze after they rejected the offer of prosecutor and chief investigator to use deviation mechanism against her which envisioned lighter sentencing. Their lawyer Manuchar Tsimintia also confirmed their statement. “On July 29, Gela and Lela Shvelidzes were summoned to police and offered to apply for deviation mechanism. On July 30, at 10 pm, they were called to the police office together with their young son where Aleksandre Kenchoshvili repeatedly offered them deviation. The refusal irritated them very much and law enforcement officers threatened the applicants to impose charges against them.”

Several weeks after the incident prosecutor’s office launched criminal case against Lela Shvelidze and found her accused. There is only one official eyewitness in the case – their neighbor Giorgi Gorelishvili, who did not appear at the trial on November 25. The judge inquired why Giorgi Gorelishvili did not come to the hearing and another witness, investigator Tariel Zazadze said Gorelishvili was drunk in the moment.

Human Rights Center contacted Giorgi Gorelishvili, who said he has no information about the incident and has neither witnessed it. “I was drunk during interrogation. They dictated me what to write and then made me sign it. Investigator Kakabadze made me sign it. I did not see anything. I was very drunk, when they came and took me in the evening. As I remember I was in the street. To tell the truth I do not remember anything. Next day, they came to my work place and read my testimony; they said nothing would happen if I sign that document,” Giorgi Gorelishvili said and added that he could not go to the trial on November 25 because he did not have money for travelling.

Daughter of Giorgi Gorelishvili Eka Gorelishvili said when she learned about the father’s testimony, she went to the police to find out the situation. “I asked why they had questioned my father when he was drunk. Police officers asked why I act against my father. Investigator Kakabadze calmed me down and promised to help me to bring my daughter, who lives with her divorced husband, home,” Eka Gorelishvili said.

Human Rights Center contacted prosecutor Otar Sandodze to get his comments. He said he cannot make statements in advance and will wait for the testimonies of the witnesses at the trial. “Giorgi Gorelishvili will come to the trial and he will be interrogated. We will clarify everything and the judgment will be passed in accordance to the law.” Prosecutor added that since the main witness did not appear at the trial, now he also has doubts about guiltiness of Lela Shvelidze.

On November 25, district inspector-investigator Shmagi Papidze and investigator Tariel Zazadze were questioned at the trial.

Shmagi Papidze had questioned Giorgi Gorelishvili. At the trial he could not recall exact day of interrogation. It is noteworthy that interrogation date was not indicated in the protocol either that the inspector explained as technical mistake. Shmagi Papidze said Giorgi Gorelishvili went to Aspindza district police office voluntarily and that the interrogation process was conducted in accordance to the law. The inspector claimed the witness was not drunk, he read the testimony and then signed it.

Investigator Tariel Zazadze said he visited the place of incident, where he could not detect any miscarriages and the process was carried out in accordance to the law.

Judge scheduled next trial on December 2 hoping Giorgi Gorelishvili will appear there as a witness.

Co-director at Human Rights Center Nino Tsagareishvili said activities carried out by law enforcement bodies into the case raise significant questions. “Instead of investigating the alleged fact of harassment based on religious motive against Lela Shvellidze, law enforcement bodies launched criminal case against her. The prosecutor’s office has only one eyewitness, who told us that he had not witnessed the fact and law-enforcement asked him to sign the testimony when he was very drunk. His daughter confirms this fact. Neighbors claim that “victim” Zina Zedginidze is aggressive person and often insults them. They also confirm that Zina Zedginidze persecutes Lela Shvelidze because of her religion. Human Rights Center appeals to relevant institutions to study the activities of the law enforcement bodies in connection to this case.”

Human Rights Center continues monitoring of the trial into the criminal case against Lela Shvelidze. The monitoring is implemented in the frame of the project Promotion Freedom of Religion in Georgia with financial support of the Canadian Embassy.  
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Name: ფრიდონ
2014-12-08 08:34
დიდი მადლობა, რომ იცავთ ადამიანთა უფლებებს და ასე ხმამაღლა, უშუსრად აკეთებთ ამას. იმედია ეს შრომა ფუჭად არ ჩაივლის და ნაყოფს გამოიღებს. გისურვებთ წარმატებებს
Name: მანგო
2014-12-01 16:51
ეს არის სამარცხვინო საქმე, როცა სამართალდამცავების მხრიდან მოითხოვება პირის უფლებების დაცვა, ზუსტად მათი მხრიდან ხორციელდება მისი დარღვევა და ამ შემთხვევაში ფეხქვეშ გათელვა. რა სამწუხაროა როცა დაუცველად გრძნობ თავს ამ ქვეყანაში....
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