Public Defender Demands Prosecutions Against Homophobic Pogrom Organizers
Public Defender Nino Lomjaria said today she has requested the Prosecutor’s Office to launch criminal proceedings against Zurab Makharadze, far-right Alt-Info TV outlet anchor, and Spiridon Tskipurishvili, a clergyman, over organizing group violence during the July 5 homophobic pogroms.
Two months after the violence spree, that resulted in attacks on more than 50 journalists, the authorities have not yet launched prosecution against anyone for organizing the disturbance, according to the Public Defender. Based on public footage she argued anchor Makharadze had “continuously announced” and subsequently led the violence on July 5.
The ombudsperson also cited footage showing clergyman Tskipurishvili openly calling on the participants of the homophobic counter-rally against the Tbilisi Pride march to “use violence for the homeland.” Tskipurishvili was later reprimanded by the Georgian Orthodox Church.
The outbreak of violence in downtown Tbilisi led to the cancellation of the Tbilisi Pride march, with its organizers pointing to the lack of safety guarantees by the state. In the aftermath of the pogroms, police arrested and charged 27 persons for participating in organized violence.
Police searched the houses of the Kremlin-friendly Alt-Info TV anchors, including Makharadze, and took them for questioning on July 16, without any further reports on the investigation.
Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said on July 23 that the authorities had already arrested all aggressors. “If there was some street fight, the state stopped it,” he stated.
Deputy Interior Minister Aleksandre Darakhvelidze asserted it is “only” up to the prosecution to initiate criminal proceedings, adding that the Public Defender did not have access to the criminal case files and relied only on public footage in her assesment.
The prosecutor should decide if there is sufficient evidence to press charges, he stressed. “The law and the criminal investigation treats everyone equally, whoever committed the crime will be held responsible.”
- July 5 Violence Organizers Not Identified, Ombudsperson Says
- ‘Some Street Fight,’ Says Georgian PM on Homophobic Pogroms
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