The Interior Ministry said on June 1 that it has filed criminal charges against six men involved in violent incident in the village of Kortskheli during local by-election on May 22, when leaders and activists of the opposition UNM party were attacked and beaten up.
Charges have been filed without making arrests. Five of them have been charged under the clause of the criminal code, which involves hooliganism committed by a group with prior agreement, and the sixth one has been charged with committing the same crime with use of an object as a weapon. This sixth one, Vladimer Gegeshidze, a Greco-Roman wrestler, who competed in the 2012 London Olympics, was captured on TV camera during the incident holding what was either a wooden or metal stick.
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Under the criminal code the charges, if proven carry either a financial penalty or community service or prison sentence of 2-5 years; the same crime, committed with use of an object as a weapon, carries prison sentence from 4 to 7 years.
Chief Prosecutor Irakli Shotadze told journalists on June 2 that the prosecution will ask the court to impose bail, not pre-trial detention, as a preventive measure for the six accused men pending trial.
These six men, supporters of the ruling GDDG party, were questioned by the police on May 24, but no charges were filed against them at the time. Their supporters and relatives were rallying outside the Interior Ministry while the six men were being questioned by the police, calling on the authorities not to arrest them.
Lawmakers from UNM party are currently boycotting the Parliament over the Kortskheli violence. UNM MPs walked out of the Parliament chamber on May 25, saying they will not be attending sessions unless all the perpetrators and masterminds of the violence in Kortskheli are held accountable. UNM specifically accuses energy minister and general secretary of the ruling GDDG party, Kakha Kaladze, of being behind the group, which attacked opposition party members in Kortskheli.
“The investigation cannot be regarded as complete without questioning of Kaladze and without finding out who was behind this violent group,” UNM’s Otar Kakhidze said.
Twelve civil society and human rights organizations criticized the investigation into the Kortskheli violence as “ineffective”. In a joint statement on June 1, the groups also reiterated their criticism of the police for a failure to prevent and to react properly and timely on the incident.