In her article published by the daily 24 Hours on March 2 Tina Khidasheli, one of the leaders of the opposition Republican Party, says that high-handed tactics employed by the police have resulted in the killing of 19 men during police operations in recent months. She says that this is a dangerous trend which is inspired by President Saakashvili, who called for “zero tolerance towards even petty crime.”
“The Interior Minister says that all these people [killed in police operations] were criminals, but in most cases they have never been proven guilty by anyone,” Khidasheli says in her article, titled “How the Death Penalty was Restored in Georgia.”
During his address to the Parliament on February 28 Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili explained these high-handed tactics were necessary to protect the lives of the policemen.
“Everyone remembers how the Interior Ministry was criticized when one of our officer was killed while capturing Vladimer Arutunian [who was convict in a failed terrorist act against the U.S. President]. We strictly ordered those who were engaged in this operation to capture Arutunian alive. But I am not going to give similar orders often in the future, because this order [to capture the suspect alive] sacrificed an officer’s life,” Merabishvili told parliamentarians.
“Shoot to injure [a suspect] – this kind of order does not exist; shoot in self-defense – exists. Who will be injured or who will die in a clash depends only on fate,” Vano Merabishvili said.