On April 25, the Batumi City Court upheld the prosecution’s motion and sentenced two persons to pretrial detention over the March 11-12 unrest in Batumi.
Earlier on the same day, the prosecutor’s office released a statement saying that Merab Gogoberidze and Irakli Chkhvirkia were charged with organizing “a group violence” against police officers in Batumi on March 12.
“Dozens of people attacked police officers and tried to burst into the building of Adjara’s Police Department building using batons, stones and so called “Molotov cocktails.” 35 police officers sustained injuries in the attacks,” the prosecutor’s office stated.
It also said that the investigation is underway under part 1 of article 225 of the Criminal Code of Georgia which entails inprisonment from six to nine years.
Opposition parties slammed the court ruling as “politically motivated.”
The United National Movement (UNM) issued a statement saying that although Irakli Chkhvirkia was expelled from the party for violating UNM’s internal regulations in connection with the Batumi unrest, the party would still defend his rights.
“Ivanishvili’s (referring to former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili) regime continues politically motivated persecution of Georgian citizens and the arrest of Irakli Chkhvirkia’s on absurd accusations is an example of that,” the UNM said in its statement.
Petre Zambakhidze, one of the leaders of the Movement for Liberty-European Georgia’s regional office in Adjara, stressed that the court ruling was “politicized” at his press briefing on April 26.
“It was a clear message from the government that it continues persecution and that the country has a politicized judiciary,” he said.
Defense lawyers of Gogoberidze and Chkhvirkia plan to challenge the court ruling in the Kutaisi Court of Appeals. A preliminary hearing into the case is scheduled for June 20.
Incident over a parking violation ticket on March 11 in Batumi turned violent as hundreds of Batumi residents protested what they regard as “harsh” police practice of the local law enforcement agency.
Merab Gogoberidze and Irakli Chkhvirkia were actively involved in the protest.
The Interior Ministry said that a total of 21 persons have been arrested over the Batumi unrest.