Court Rules Bail for June 20 Tbilisi Protest Activist

On March 23, Tbilisi City Court ruled that Besik Tamliani, an activist detained during June 20-21 protests, who had rejected a plea bargain and pleaded not guilty in the case, has to pay a GEL 4,000 bail. He, reportedly, will be released from custody later today.

Tamliani is among alleged political prisoners (together with Irakli Okruashvili, Gigi Ugulava and Giorgi Rurua) whose immediate release the opposition insisted. The opposition says that releasing these prisoners has been one of the preconditions for the March 8 Agreement. On March 9, they released a joint statement calling on the Georgian President and all state institutions to release from custody the said prisoners “by using legitimate tools at their disposal.”

Tamliani’s defense lawyer, Levan Ioseliani told reporters after today’s hearing that the term of Tamliani’s pretrial custody was expiring on April 4 and the court delivered the ruling upon its own initiative. He also noted that Tamliani has been restricted to leave the country.

On March 13, Levan Ioseliani also filed a motion requesting the bail for Tamliani, but Judge Aleksandre Iashvili rejected the motion basing his decision on an assumption that the detainee “might have gone into hiding.”

Earlier, the prosecutor had concluded plea bargains with three other persons – Kakhaber Kupreishvili, Tsotne Sosealia and Zurab Budaghashvili – who subsequently were released from custody on March 6.

Tbilisi City Court found the defendants guilty and sentenced 3-year prison terms to each convict. Given the plea agreements, the Court replaced imprisonment with a 3-year probation period. Additionally, the Court imposed GEL 3000 fines on each convict.

The police charged 19 protesters of June 20-21, 2019 protest with inciting and participating in group violence. Those charged included Irakli Okruashvili, leader of the opposition Victorious Georgia party and Nika Melia, former MP from the United National Movement party. Nika Melia was then released on bail, while Okruashvili still remains in custody.

As for the other detainees, they were released from custody as a result of plea bargains, including Levan Jikuri, who suffered from grave health problems in the course of his detention. Civil activists held protests demanding his prompt release. Jikuri left jail on bail last August.

Jikuri’s release was preceded by the release on bail of a law enforcement officer detained for the abuse of power while dispersing the protest on June 20-21. This ruling triggered sharp criticism and protests from the public. In total, three law enforcement officers were detained on the same charges, all of which were subsequently released.

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