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Policeman Jailed for Murder
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 10 Aug.'06 / 13:30

The Tbilisi City Court found patrol policeman Grigol Bashaleishvili guilty of the negligent murder of 19-year-old Amiran Robakidze on 23 November 2004, sentencing him to a four-year prison term on August 10.

But relatives of the victim and some human rights groups have condemned the trial as an attempt to cover up higher-level Interior Ministry officials, who allegedly fabricated evidence.

Amiran Robakidze died after being shot twice on November 23, 2004. The TV program ‘Patrol Police,’ which is produced by the Interior Ministry’s press service and aired daily by Rustavi 2 television, reported the next day that Robakidze was killed by policemen while they were trying to capture “an armed gang of bandits.” The TV program’s footage showed Kalashnikov assault rifles, which were allegedly seized from a car in which Robakidze and his friends were driving.

However, further investigation proved that evidence at the crime scene was fabricated. Later, Grigol Bashaleishvili, a patrol policeman, admitted that he shot Amiran Robakidze, who was unarmed,  “accidentally.”

Robakidze's relatives and some human right groups are now calling for the prosecution of the Interior Ministry officials who fabricated the crime scene evidence. In particular, relatives are pointing the finger at then-chief of press services Guram Donadze, who was in charge of production for ‘Patrol Police,’ and then-chief of Patrol Police Zurab Mikadze.

Guram Donadze was also involved in another scandal concerning the high-profile murder case of Sandro Girgvliani. In March, 2006, Donadze resigned from his position as the Interior Ministry’s spokesman because of public pressure.

At the court hearing a lawyer for the victim’s family demanded to interrogate ‘Patrol Police’ journalists. According to Bashaleishvili’s testimony, the journalists were not at the scene of the crime; but in a letter sent to the court on August 10, the Interior Ministry said that journalists were on the scene. Robakidze’s relatives’ protested this response by walking out of the courtroom. Earlier the attorney was also demanding interrogation of Guram Donadze and Zurab Mikadze, but the appeal was turned down by the court.
 
In July 2006, Georgian Public Defender Sozar Subari appealed Prosecutor General Zurab Adeishvili to initiate criminal proceedings against all of the law enforcers who are allegedly behind the fabrication of evidence.

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