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Civic Activists Stage Protest over High-Profile Murder
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 23 May.'06 / 23:26

Protesters on the half-blocked
Rustaveli Avenue, Tbilisi, May 23, 2006.
A small group of activists from the Equality Institute non-governmental organization went on hunger strike and staged a protest rally on the roadway of the central Rustaveli Avenue outside, the Parliament’s building in Tbilisi, on May 23.

The protesters are demanding a fair investigation into the Sandro Girgvliani murder case and punishment for those Interior Ministry officials who, as they say, were behind this crime. Protesters were holding banners reading: “Vano Go,” referring to Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili.
 
Data Akhalaia, Chief of the Department for Constitutional Security (DCS), and Vasil Sanodze, Chief of the General Inspection of the Interior Ministry, who were both allegedly linked to the murder case, were suspended from their duties in March, pending an investigation, while one more official – Interior Ministry spokesman Guram Donadze - was sacked.

Relatives of Sandro Girgvliani, who was murdered in January, 2006, as well as some human right groups allege that these officials “ordered” the crime.

But according to the prosecutor’s office the crime was committed as a result of “a spontaneous quarrel” between the victim and four officers of the Interior Ministry’s Department for Constitutional Security. These four suspects were arrested in March.

The Equality Institute demands an interrogation of those Interior Ministry officials who are allegedly linked to the Girgvliani murder case in the presence of the Girgvliani's family’s lawyers. 

“We will stay here until our demands are met,” Irakli Kakabadze, Chief of the Equality Institute, who announced hunger strike, said.
   
The Equality Institute has staged a series of protest rallies in Tbilisi in recent months against police violence.

Some opposition politicians also appeared at the protest rally late on May 23, including MP Davit Gamkrelidze, leader of the New Rights party, Davit Usupashvili, leader of the Republican Party, and Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, leader of the Freedom Party.

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