Llocal journalists held a demonstration at the Chokhatauri police station and at the editorial office of the Guria News newspaper. The journalists protested that on June 10 Nato Gogelia, a journalist of the Guria News newspaper, was physically assaulted by the employees of the Chokhatauri district department of MIA.
Yesterday the journalists found that the police station was closed, but they put up placards that said: “Do not beat us”; “Freedom to speak”; “Take you hands off journalists”.
The incident happened when Gogelia was trying to find out why Mamuka Tsintsadze, a representative of the Alliance for Georgia, was arrested. She was sentenced to 2 months in prison by the Ozurgeti regional court.
According to Nato Gogelia, on Monday June 10 about at 16:00 she came to the Chokhatauri regional police station, which was closed and she asked the officer of the day to inform the chief policeman about her presense.
“I was told that Avto Vasadze (head of the Chokhatauri police-station) would meet me in several minutes. I waited. The officer opened the door and told me that the chief was waiting for me. When I entered the room Tato Vasadze met me. He is a son of the head of Chokhatauri police department and also an employee of the Guria regional department of MIA. Later his father explained to me that his son was working in Chokhatauri.
“He grabbed me by arm, stopped me at the door and kicked me. The head of police handle the situation and reprimanded his son for such behavior”, stated Gogelia.
Avto Vasadze promised that he would punish his son.
“When this incident happened, Valeri Chitaishvili, the governor of the Guria region, was having a feast with his employees. During a telephone conversation the head of the regional department, without saying that he would find out what had happened, was claiming that such incident would not happen”, stated Gogelia. Tamaz Trapaidze, the head of the Ozurgeti regional office of the Georgian Youth Lawyers Association, stated that he talked about this incident to Gogelia. Trapaidze stated that according to the testimony of the journalist the policeman broke the law.
“The Journalist had scheduled the meeting with the head of the police station; so she could ask any question. Despite that fact, a policeman met her in the entrance and did not allow her into the room of the head of the police station. Consequently, it was violation of the law because the law enforcer prevented the journalist from her professional activities.
“As for physical assault, Nato Gogelia stated that she was assaulted and could not continue her professional activities until the head of police station came downstairs and led her into his room. Apparently, as it was found out, the person who blocked the way to the journalist when entering the building was the son of the head of the police station. Besides that, the son is supervising his father, the law enforcement officer. This fact is a violation,” said Trapaidze.
Ia Mamaladze, the founder of the newspaper “Guria News”, stated that the incident of June 10 is not an exception in our country and correspondents of the “Guria News” are often abused. A Short time ago, its correspondent was insulted by Anton Khundadze, chairperson of the Chokhatauri municipality board, for having requested quite ordinary information from him. Regarding the reason for Gogelia’s visit to the police station, Mamaladze explained, that the journalist tried to find out information about a detainee whose parents and relatives had applied to their editorial office for help.
“We inquired only about what had happened and when a journalist is kicked, has her wrists twisted and her hands bloody for a similar question it is a very grave fact; and furthermore you cannot assist him/her because the other side does nothing.
“Not a single governmental official came to our office and inquired about the incident. I directly connect this incident with the local self-governance. When a person is detained, they should inquire what had happened?!” said Mamaladze.
The Regional Media Association and many media sources responded to the incident. They protested the fact. Media expert Ia Antadze condemns the incident and demands punishment of the criminals.
“When a young female journalist is beaten in the police station it means that the harassers are sure they would not be punished for their behavior. It is impunity and it is exposed in different places in different ways,” said Antadze.
“Resonance” got in touch with Tato Vasadze who categorically denied the incident.
“If you want to speak about some other topic you are welcome but regarding this incident you should call Maiko Giorgadze, the spokesperson. Everything is false,” said Vasadze.
We also tried to get in touch with Maiko Giorgadze but she did not answer our phone calls.