Seven supporters of the UNM opposition party who were detained by the police in scuffles outside the Tbilisi City Court that followed announcement of judge’s decision ordering Gigi Ugulava’s pre-trial detention, were fined with GEL 100 and released.
Court found them guilty of administrative offense involving petty hooliganism, but turned down police allegations that they were disobeying orders from the law enforcement officers.
UNM lawmaker Levan Bezhashvili was also arrested in chaotic scenes outside the court building late on Friday night. He was released about three hours after the detention.
A member of parliament enjoys with immunity and law enforcement officers are allowed to arrest a lawmaker only if the latter is caught in the act of committing a criminal offense. Petty hooliganism falls under code of administrative offenses, not under the criminal code. Parliament has formally inquired with the Interior Ministry about circumstances and reasons of lawmaker’s detention, MP from GD parliamentary majority group, Giorgi Tsagareishvili, said on July 5.
During the court hearing on July 5 police officers told the judge that at the time of arresting MP Bezhashvili they were not aware that he’s a lawmaker.
MP Bezhashvili told the judge that he committed no administrative offense; he said that although he used offensive words to express his opinion against the government, he has not insulted anyone personally. Bezhashvili, whose case was heard in court separately from those of other seven detainees, also said that his arrest by the police was unlawful and called it an “unprecedented violence” committed against a member of the parliament. The judge adjourned the hearing for July 7, when the ruling is expected.
Among those who were detained outside the court building and fined with GEL 100 was Kote Gabashvili, ex-lawmaker and Georgia’s former ambassador to Italy. Gabashvili, 65, told the judge that he was “emotional”, shouting and “swearing”, but he denied that he was disobeying police orders.
In parallel to Ugulava’s pre-trial detention hearing in the Tbilisi City Court, UNM supporters and activists were rallying outside the court building on July 4. Angered by the court’s decision, some of the demonstrators shouted insults at prosecutors as they emerged from the court building escorted by the police after the hearing; it was then followed by scuffles with the police.