Prosecutor’s office has charged Badri Bitsadze, husband of ex-parliamentary speaker Nino Burjanadze, who was among the leaders of the recent street protests dispersed by the riot police on May 26, with creating a group attacking police.
Bitsadze has not been arrested and the prosecutor’s office said it would not seek pre-trial detention for Bitsadze; prosecutor’s office also said it would request the court to apply bail pending investigation. Amount of bail was not specified.
Davit Sakvarelidze, deputy chief prosecutor, said that the charges were brought against Bitsadze under the second part of article 353 of the criminal code.
“Badri Bitsadze has been charged with organizing attacks on policemen by a group, created beforehand,” Davit Sakvarelidze, the deputy chief prosecutor said.
Second part of the article 353 of criminal code deals with crime involving resisting police in protecting public order through use of force or threat of use of force. The crime is punishable with imprisonment from four months to seven years.
The deputy chief prosecutor said that Bitsadze was charged based on witness testimonies, as well as police audio and video recordings and a testimony by retired general, Gia Uchava, who was one of the leaders of the “Sworn-in-Brothers” – a group established by the People’s Assembly with a declared goal “to protect the movement’s activists from police harassment.”
Uchava was arrested at the protest venue outside the public broadcaster’s office on May 22. In the video testimony released by the Interior Ministry, Uchava says that Badri Bitsadze was coordinating a group of men, which he describes as “paramilitary group”, armed with sticks and wooden shields. He says that Bitsadze also offered to arm the group with slingshots and to use small “iron balls” as projectiles. He also says that there have been considerations about making Molotov cocktails and one of the possible scenarios was “to break into” the public broadcaster’s headquarters on the Kostava Street and into the Tbilisi City Council on the Freedom Square. He also mentions that “the information became available, that there was an armed group, which in case of necessity would have joined the rally and opened fire on law enforcement” officers.
Bitsadze is a former chief of border police, who resigned from the post in October, 2008.