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Two Others Arrested Along with Journalist in Abkhazia
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 27 Feb.'08 / 19:47

Two other people were also arrested along with Georgian journalist Malkhaz Basilaia by Abkhaz militia on February 26, it emerged on February 27. All of them have been charged with “illegally crossing the Abkhaz border.”

One of them, Davit Tsotsoria, was identified by the Abkhaz side as a Mze TV cameraman and the other, Maia Danelia, the mother of Tsotsoria – both internally displaced people from Abkhazia. Georgian media sources initially reported only the arrest of Basilia. Reports about the two other detainees emerged only after the Abkhaz side had released the information.

Later on February 27 Mze TV aired video footage from Abkhaz television, showing all three detainees being interrogated in Sokhumi. When asked if they had been tortured or beaten, Tsotsoria and Danelia said they hadn't, while Basilaia remained silent. Tsotsoria, however, said that they had been verbally insulted.

Tsotsoria and Basilaia also told interrogators that they had entered Abkhazia after paying 1,000 Russian rubles to Abkhaz militia. They also said they wanted to go to Abkhazia to visit a sick relative and had taken a video camera to film their house. They said that the journalist, Malkhaz Basilaia, “just wanted to accompany us.” “The visit had no other purpose,” Tsotsoria said.

Mze TV reported on February 26 that Basilaia, the chief of Mze's Zugdidi bureau, had been arrested at Enguri river, the border between breakaway Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia, as he was doing a story on the Russian presidential election in Abkhazia.

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