A judge of the Tbilisi City Court ordered on November 24 pre-trial detention for Davit Borchashvili, who was arrested by the Georgian State Security Service on suspicion of fighting for Islamic State group in Syria.
Criminal charges involving membership in a terrorist organization were filed by prosecution against Borchashvili, 29, who is a native of Pankisi gorge, on November 23.
After at first being barred from entry into Georgia and sent back to Turkey, Borchashvili was deported again by Turkey back to Tbilisi where he was arrested by the State Security Service.
His defense lawyer, Gela Nikolaishvili, says that his client admits traveling to Syria, but denies fighting for or having any links to the Islamic State or any other terrorist group in Syria.
Borchashvili claims that he had “contacts” with the Western-backed Free Syrian Army, according to his defense lawyer.
Court hearing into prosecution’s motion requesting for Borchashvili’s pre-trial detention was arranged in a hospital in Tbilisi, where Borchashvili is for a medical treatment after complications from a surgery he had to undergo more than seven months ago after apparently sustaining a gunshot wound.
The prosecution has classified case against Borchasvhili as secret.
According to his lawyer, investigators attached the case against his client to a broader investigation, which the Georgian law enforcement agencies opened in spring, 2014.
The lawyer said that although he cannot speak about the details of the case as it is classified, the only evidence the prosecution has against his client is a video footage, but it fails to prove claims that Borchashvili was with the Islamic State group.
A prosecutor told journalists that because the case is classified, she cannot comment on what type of evidence, except of the video footage, the prosecution has against Borchashvili.
The video in question, which was leaked onto internet on November 21, shows Davit Borchashvili along with some other armed men riding in back of a pickup truck, which was part of a convoy driving in unidentified town; in the video it is seen, very briefly and sketchily, what looks like a flag, used by the Islamic State group, flown from the back of other pickup truck in the convoy.
Borchashvili’s defense lawyer says that according to his client the video is recorded in 2013 in Syria, close to the Turkish border, and that the Islamic State group was not even present in that area at the time. The lawyer also said that his client had links with the Western-backed Free Syrian Army, but not with the Islamic State.
Meanwhile trial was underway in the Tbilisi City Court on November 24 in case against Aiuf Borchashvili, who was arrested on June 14, 2015 on charges of recruiting fighters for the Islamic State group. He denies charges.
Davit Borchashvili and Aiuf Borchashvili, who are not relatives, are from the same village of Jokolo in the Pankisi gorge, according to Gela Nikolaishvili, who is defense lawyer of the both men.
The trial against Aiuf Borchashvili also includes three other co-defendants, who the prosecution claims were recruited by Aiuf Borchashvili and were detained before leaving for Turkey from where they were intending to go to Syria. The three men, who are residents of Tbilisi, deny charges.