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Accused Goes on Hunger Strike

07.06.2006
Accused Goes on Hunger Strike


Prosecutor Vano Mkhargrdzeli, who demanded two months preliminary imprisonment for Dimitri Jokhadze, admitted not remembering the reason why he was detained. The case does not involve a document stating about his earlier conviction or the fact that he would try to hide from the investigation.  

The judge was provided with an application that Jokhadze sent to the Human Rights Information and Documentation Center a month before his detention. In the application he described intimidation and threats made by the Zakalashvili brothers against him. Despite this application and the demands of his lawyers, the judge - Shalva Mchedlishvili, after an hour’s hesitation, sentenced him to imprisonment.

Officers of the Criminal Police from the Gurgaani Police Department within the Ministry of Internal Affairs detained Dimidtri Jokhadze on 29th May in Gia Purtseladze’s house. Jokhadze, an inhabitant of the village of Chandari in the Gurjaani region, was arrested after complaints from Gela Zakalashvili and Giorgi Zakalashvili, both Directors of the ‘Chandari Gvino Karkhana’ (Chandari Wine Factory) joint-stock company. The pair accused Dimitri Jokhadze of blackmailing them.

Dimitri Jokhadze contacted the Human Rights Information and Documentation Center with an application on March 9th 2006, in which he stated that he had a serious disagreement with the brothers - Giorgi and Gela Zakalashvili. “I had a serious disagreement with them; Gia Zakalashvili threatened that they would make the police detain me for possessing drugs that they would plant on me, if I kept on supporting Gia Purtseladze - who is one of the stockholders of the company and my best friend. Gia has for years been harassed by the brothers at the company.  Although some incidents occurred in my past, I have not got anything to do with drugs anymore. In case their threat is carried out, I ask you to protect me”, stated Dimitri Jokhadze in his application.

During a search, the police failed to find any drugs, but as the family members state, they did manage to discover a gun on the floor. “They did not have enough time to hide it in the room because we entered immediately. That is why they threw it on the floor. The witnesses who signed their papers were their people. Who would keep a gun on the floor where the children are running around all the time? It is nonsense”, says Valiko Jokhadze, the father of the detainee. 

“A criminal case against Jokhadze was started under the Article 181 (extortion of money). It is also strange that the police found a gun during a search of a house, where he had not lived for three months. Therefore, he could not have kept a gun there. The judge was vividly under pressure; but we did not expect such ‘an idiotic decision’ as the one he took - despite all those mistakes made by the prosecution during the trial. The prosecutor admitted not knowing the article Jokhadze was charged under. The prosecutor could also not state the reason why Jokhadze would hide from the investigation etc.”, stated Jokhadze’s lawyers: Irakli Artilakva, Levan Shalamberidze (the Young Lawyers Association) and Lia Khuroshvili (the Human Rights Information and Documentation Center). 

Jokhadze continues the hunger strike that he has started in the preliminary detention cell at Gurjaani Police Department and despite his poor health he does not intend to stop his protest. He reported to the Human Right Information and Documentation Center: “Although some incidents occurred in my past, I have not got anything to do with drugs anymore. I just supported my best friend who is the stockholder of 27% of the company but is not allowed to even enter it.  The Zakalashvili brothers try their best to get rid of me because, in addition to the thing with my friend, I know a lot about other violations at the company, as well as the falsification of wine there. Furthermore, the Financial Police have now become interested in the company’s financial situation, so they want to keep me away in order to hide all their crimes”, states Jokhadze.
The Gurjaani prosecutor Aleksandre Periashvili, who denies having any friendship with the Zakalashvili brothers, states that if he wanted to arrest Jokhadze he would not need the help of the Zakalashvilis.

The Director of the ‘Chandari Gvino Karkhana’ (Chandari Wine Factory) joint-stock company, Giorgi Zakalashvili would not comment on the arrest of Jokhadze. He stated, “If you are interested in the case you should apply to the Regional Prosecutor’s Office.” However, his brother Gela Zakalashvili labels Jokhadze a ‘drug addict and criminal’ whose place is in prison.

Gia Purtseladze is the owner of the house Jokhadze was detained in.  He considers the arrest was a set up. “It’s nonsense to say that Dima would try to extort money from someone. He has been detained because of the interests of the ‘Chandari Gvino Karkhana’”, says Purtseladze.

The judge, Shalva Mchedlishvili, denies any attempt to put pressure upon him from the prosecutor’s side. The lawyers have decided to apply to the Security Council with complaints about the judge.


Gela Mtivlishvili from Kakheti

 

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