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7 Men Sent to Pretrial Detention in Case of Alleged Foiled Attack on Gas Pipeline
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 23 Aug.'16 / 15:31

Tbilisi City Court ordered late on Monday pretrial detention of seven men, who were arrested on August 20 in connection to what the State Security Service said was plotting of a “terrorist act” to target a section of the gas pipeline, which transports gas from Russia to Armenia via Georgia.

Four men are charged with plotting a terrorist act; one is charged with providing assistance in obtaining and possession of explosives for the purpose of terrorism; one is charged with not reporting a crime and the seventh one, who is a patrol police officer from the town of Poti, faces charges of abuse of his official duties, involving allegedly not reporting crime.

All of the accused men, but one, deny charges. Beka Bekauri, who along with terrorism charges also faces charges related to illegal obtaining and possession of firearms and explosives, has pleaded guilty, according to his defense lawyer Maia Chrelashvili.

Bekauri was not present at the court hearing on Monday; he was hospitalized and required surgery after sustaining bodily injuries, including to his head, during the arrest, according to his lawyer. Chrelashvili said that her client told her that he was hit with a rifle butt during the arrest. Bekauri’s relatives suspect that confession was obtained from him under duress – but his lawyer said that her client denies it.

Chrelashvili said after visiting her client in a hospital in Tbilisi on August 23 that Bekauri claims to be a sole mastermind behind intended attack on the gas pipeline; she said that according to her client he wanted to act against “Russian aggressors” and wanted to target the pipeline, which carries Russian gas. Chrelashvili said that her client denies having any links to someone abroad.

The authorities are tight-lipped about details of the case. Prosecutor Giorgi Davitashvili told journalists on August 22 after he was asked about motives of the alleged crime and possible masterminds: “Because of the still ongoing investigation I cannot say at this point whether we are aware or not of who has ordered it.”

The court hearing on Monday was only about prosecution’s motion for pretrial detention of the accused and not a trial on the merits. Preliminary court hearing, when a judge has to decide on the admissibility of evidence submitted by the parties and hear various other motions from the parties before the court moves to trial on the merits, has been set for October 10.

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