Human Rights Center (HRC) monitored in Tbilisi City Court the administrative proceedings of three activists of the civil movement Shame: Alex Machavariani, Nodar Rukhadze and Giorgi Mzhavanadze (founders and organizers of the rally).
All three activists were detained near the Parliament of Georgia on November 9 for allegedly violating an administrative law during a rally of the United Opposition, which was to be carried on from 22:00 under the organisation of Shame. The detainees are charged with petty hooliganism and disobeying the lawful request of a law enforcement officer being on duty or verbally abusing the officer.
On November 10 and 11, court hearings of detainees were held at the Panel of Administrative Cases within Tbilisi City Court. The parties submitted some evidence in support of the fact of the offense actually took place or and some in support of the argument that the proceedings must end.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs brought as an evidence live video footage that were broadcast by the media depicting Alex Machavariani committing followed by his arrest. With regard the arrest of Nodar Rukhadze, the Ministry of Internal Affairs brought as an evidence only the testimonies of the police officers who arrested him. Regarding Giorgi Mzhavanadze, they brought to the hearing a live video footage of his arrest as well as the testimonies of police officers. The evidence (body camera recordings or other video evidence) depicting the alleged offense by Nodar Rukhadze and Giorgi Mzhavanadze were not submitted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
At the court proceedings, the defense stated that no offense had been committed by any of the detainees. The arrests were of a preventive nature and there were no grounds for any arrests. In respect to the culpability of Machavariani, the subject matter of the hearing was the extent to which the firewood brought to the protest rally for heating was a prohibited item as provided for by Article 11.2(a) and (b) of the Law of Georgia on Assemblies and Manifestations. Further, the court adjudicated on the matter of lawfulness of the request by the police officer and what in particular the disobedience of the detainee was manifested. However, in respect to the culpability of Rukhadze and Mzhavanadze, the significant circumstances were in what the petty hooliganism was manifested, on one hand, and in what the disobedience to the lawful request of a law enforcement officer or verbal abuse of the office was manifested, on another hand.
The defense stated at the proceedings that the detained Giorgi Mzhavanadze was physically abused by the police when brought the yard of the patrol police of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Following the formal request by the defense counsel, the Office of the State Inspector launched an investigation into the fact. Giorgi Mzhavanadze was interrogated regarding the fact and an expert examination has been scheduled.
All three detainees were found guilty of administrative offenses under the relevant articles of the Administrative Offenses Code of Georgia.
Alex Machavariani was fined with GEL 1,000 for committing an offense under Article 173 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of Georgia.
Nodar Rukhadze was fined with GEL 1,500 for committing an offense under Articles 166 and 173 of the Administrative Offenses Code of Georgia.
Giorgi Mzhavanadze was sanctioned to 3 days of administrative detention for the offense under Articles 166 and 173 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of Georgia.
According to the assessment by HRC, the evidence presented in the case did not reveal the fact that the detainees had committed the offenses. The court decision is not based on a body of evidence. The judge relied on the testimonies of patrol police officers not confirmed by video evidence of the offense.
HRC monitored the court hearings of Alex Machavariani, Nodar Rukhadze and Giorgi Mzhavanadze within the Public Events Monitoring project. Beside the above proceedings, HRC monitoring also concerns 23 criminal and administrative cases with allegedly political motives.
The project Public Events Monitoring is supported by a US foundation National Endowment for Democracy (NED)