Six men, who were among those involved in attack against UNM leaders and activists in the village of Kortskheli, were questioned late on May 24 by the police, but no charges have yet been filed.
The police reaction to the incident, as well as its failure to prevent it, was criticized by the rights groups; no one has yet been either charged or arrested over the violence outside a polling station during local by-election on May 22 in which several leaders of the opposition UNM party and its activists were beaten up by a group of GDDG ruling party supporters and members with athletic builds, who were mobilized in the village. The incident was filmed by several TV crews.
“They showed up at police [station] voluntarily and were questioned as witnesses,” Zurab Beltadze, a lawyer representing some of the men involved in the incident, said.
Echoing GDDG leaders’ position, the men claim that UNM members provoked the incident.
“They [UNM] insulted me and I responded the way they deserved it,” Vladimer Gegeshidze, a Greco-Roman wrestler, who competed in the 2012 London Olympics and who was involved in the attack against UNM leaders and activists, told journalists before entering the Interior Ministry’s one of the buildings in Tbilisi for questioning; he also added that he’s an “active supporter” of GDDG party.
Outside the Interior Ministry’s building relatives, friends and supporters of the men, involved in the incident, were rallying, calling on the authorities not to arrest them.
Interior Minister, Giorgi Mgebrishvili, said on May 24 that the police would ask the court to issue arrest warrants for perpetrators “in coming days or coming hours.”
Public Defender, Ucha Nanuashvili, said in his statement on May 23, that “delay in a strict reaction to this violence will effect on electoral environment and encourage such violence.”
“We call on the law enforcement agencies not to apply selective justice and to punish all the perpetrators to the full extent of the law,” he said.
“The state is obligated to launch prosecution against all those persons who were involved in, as well as organized and encouraged, this violent act. It is noteworthy that the opposition party and its political figures were target of this violence, which puts even more responsibility on the authorities to investigate and react on this case with high standards,” the Public Defender said.