Six months after the disappearance of Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli from Tbilisi and his subsequent detention in Baku, Georgian Public Defender Ucha Nanuashvili speaks of shortcomings in the ongoing investigation into the matter.
In a statement issued on November 29, Ucha Nanuashvili said the Georgian prosecutor’s office refused to grant victim’s status to Afgan Mukhtarli, which would allow him and his lawyers “to observe the ongoing investigation.”
The Public Defender also noted that the prosecutor’s office has not yet considered the aggravating factors of the offence, including that Mukhtarli was allegedly kidnapped by a group and that he was taken abroad. Therefore, Ucha Nanuashvili urges the prosecution to re-classify the offence (investigation is currently underway under Article 143 § 1 of the Criminal Code - unlawful imprisonment).
The Public Defender also expressed his regret over the fact that “six months after the launch of the investigation, despite high interest, the prosecutor’s office has not informed the public of the results of the investigation.”
“The Public Defender hopes that the prosecutor’s office will take all measures to carry out immediate and effective investigation in a timely manner, conduct all investigative actions, including the examination of the authenticity of the video footage, and answer all questions related to this case based on objective evidence, in order to bring all perpetrators to justice,” reads the statement.
Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli went missing from Tbilisi on May 29. A day later he appeared in a detention facility in Baku arrested on charges of illegal border crossing, smuggling money and police disobedience.
The President of Georgia, opposition parties, journalists, civil society organizations and international organizations slammed the Georgian government for its handling of the case and the investigation.
Mukhtarli’s wife Leyla Mustafayeva, who stayed in Tbilisi for several months after Mukhtarli’s detention and urged the Georgian government, on numerous occasions, to effectively investigate the case, left the country for Europe in early October.