Judge of the Tbilisi City Court ordered to drop criminal charges, related to disruption of the May 17 anti-homophobia rally, against an Orthodox priest, citing absence of cumulative evidence in the case.
Archimandrite at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Antimoz (Tamaz) Bichinashvili, as well as another Orthodox priest Iotam (Irakli) Basilaia and three other men were charged in late May with obstruction to freedom of assembly; charges were filed against them without being arrested.
Tamaz Bichinashvili is seen in one the videos from the May 17 violence, swearing and shouting “we will kill you” as the crowd, led by Orthodox priests, was moving violently towards a small group of gay rights activists, who were intending to hold anti-homophobia rally in Tbilisi center.
At a preliminary court hearing on August 1 judge, Merab Jorbenadze, said that even if the video footage available in the case was incontrovertible evidence, it was the only piece of evidence in the case against Tamaz Bichinashvili making it impossible for the case to be heard on its merits.
“There is no cumulative evidence present in the case and the court terminates criminal proceedings against the accused,” the judge said.
Defense lawyers were requesting the same move in respect for other four defendants, but the judge deemed evidence against those four men admissible and ordered their cases to be tried on merits during a trial expected to launch in mid-August.