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Woman Accuses Police of Physical Abuse

A 21-year-old woman, Lika Kikiani, has accused police officers of beating her in an incident that occurred in early hours of July 6 on the Turtle Lake (Kus Tba) on a hill overlooking Vake district of Tbilisi, an allegation denied by the Interior Ministry.
 
On July 7 she posted a video message on her Facebook page, which was shared for more than 6,000 times, recounting her ordeal in which, she claims, was a victim of police abuse.

According to her she was at work in Vitamin Cubes nightclub on the Turtle Lake when in early hours of July 6 she heard young men, some of them her acquaintances, having a quarrel at a parking lot. She says that she rushed towards the scene and saw more than dozen of policemen, possibly up to 20, some in plainclothes, also heading towards the quarrelling men. She says that the men left the area as the police arrived and she was returning back when some policemen started throwing insults, including verbal sexual abuses, at her. After she responded, Kikiani says, one of the policemen grabbed her by the throat and shoving her to the ground; she also says that one policeman kicked her with leg. According to her account two young men, who were visiting the nightclub, told the police to stop beating her, but the police officers “beat them up” too and detained one of them. She says that policemen dragged her into a car and took her to the Vake-Saburtalo police station No.1, located close to the Mziuri Park.

“I remember your faces, I will let everyone know about it,” Kikiani says, referring to those policemen she claims physically insulted her. “You won’t get away with this.”

On July 8 she showed light bruises on her hand to journalists; a doctor in the hospital, where she went after being released from the police station, said that although Kikiani had no serious injuries, she had yellowish-brown spots including on her hands.

On July 8 the Interior Ministry released a statement saying that its internal investigations unit probed into the claims voiced by Kikiani in her video address, but found no evidence to substantiate her allegations. It also said that the young man, who Kikiani says, was also beaten by the police, has denied, like other witnesses, that Kikiani was physically insulted by the police officers. According to the Interior Ministry, Kikiani was detained for petty hooliganism and disobeying police orders.

The Interior Ministry also released less than 2-minute long video footage from two CCTV cameras – one from the Turtle Lake and another one from the police station, where Kikiani was taken.

18-second long footage from Turtle Lake shows two police officers escorting Kikiani and another portion of the footage shows police escorting her into the police station at 5:44am on July 6 and then Kikiani leaving the station at 7:10am of the same morning.

This brief video recordings, the Interior Ministry claims, shows that contrary to her claims Kikiani was not mistreated by the police. 

But Kikiani, who has filed a complaint with the prosecutor’s office, requesting to launch the investigation, insists on releasing the entire video footage from those CCTV cameras, which are installed specifically on the scene where the incident occurred on the Turtle Lake. She tried in vain to obtain the footage from chief of the security of the Turtle Lake, who said that the police had already recovered the footage from CCTV cameras.

Levan Vepkhvadze, who is providing legal counsel to Kikiani, says that “if the Interior Ministry claims that nothing has happened then it is better for them to release the specific footage from the scene.”

“Probe has been completed by the General Inspection [Interior Ministry’s internal investigations unit],” Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri said on July 9, adding that he is not aware about the details of the CCTV footage. “If there are still questions we are ready to hand the case over to the prosecutor’s office for further investigation.”

Chief Prosecutor’s Office said on July 9 that it has opened criminal investigation upon an appeal filed by Kikiani. It said that the investigation is ongoing under the clause of the criminal code, which deals with exceeding official powers by police officers, committed with violence and insult of victim’s dignity.

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