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MIA Denies Police Mistreatment of Activist
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 18 Aug.'10 / 14:45

The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) has denied claims by an activist and writer, Irakli Kakabadze, that he had been mistreated by the police during his brief detention on August 14.

The Ministry also defended police officers' decision to arrest Kakabadze and two others, when the three men were rallying on August 14 demanding renaming of Georgia W. Bush street after American poet Walt Whitman.The protest involved painting over the picture of the ex-U.S. president on the street banner and reading Whitman's and thier own verses.

Kakabadze said he was "verbally and physically insulted" by chief of Tbilisi patrol police and his deputy in the yard of the Interior Ministry, where he was brought after the arrest. The Public Defender's Office said in the statement on August 17 that its representative, who visited Kakabadze in the detention center, observed injuries on his shoulder and arm.

"His arm was only slightly hurt and it was caused when a police officer grabbed his arm during the arrest and there was no violence whatsoever and he was not physically insulted," Shota Utiashvili, head of the Interior Ministry's information and analytical department, told Civil.ge on August 18.

Another controversy involving the case was the fact of arrest itself. The court released the three protesters after fining with GEL 400 each for disobedience to police lawful orders. But video footage of the protest and the three protesters' arrest shows that all three followed police officers into the police car without any resistance. Defense lawyers complained that judge refused to watch the video and took the decision without taking into consideration the evidence in favor of the protesters.

Utiashvili said that although there was no resistance to police at the moment of arrest, the protesters disobeyed earlier orders from the police asking them to leave a traffic safety line within which protesters were standing at a junction of thoroughfare on the Bush street. This demand to leave the area was caused, according to Utiashvili, with the police intention to prevent protesters from making more graffiti on the street banner.

Tbilisi-based legal advocacy group, Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), which was acting in defense of two other protesters in the court, said that the fact of arrest itself was illegal. GYLA said that although protesters obeyed police orders to leave traffic safety triangle line, such demand from policemen was not legal in itself as standing within the line was not a violation. GYLA also said that the only wrongdoing committed by protesters was making graffiti on street banner. But punishment for such wrongdoing, GYLA continued, involves only GEL 50 fine and not the arrest.

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