Marneuli Mayor Temur Abazov has been arrested on charges of inhuman and degrading treatment of a local resident, Elchin Alakhvediev, the Chief Prosecutor’s Office said on June 13.
The Marneuli Mayor was arrested a day after Tbilisi-based Studio Monitor published a story showing a video of a local resident in Marneuli compelled to apologize for verbally insulting the ruling party founder and leader Bidzina Ivanishvili and Marneuli Mayor Temur Abazov at one of the recent solidarity rallies in Tbilisi.
Another video, obtained by Studio Monitor, showed Alakhvediev forced to wipe his face with what seemed to be his urine.
Studio Monitor reported, citing unidentified sources, that local representatives of the ruling Georgian Dream party and Mayor Temur Abazov were personally involved in the incident. Abazov denied his involvement, saying he was not aware of what happened.
The Chief Prosecutor’s Office, however, said Abazov was directly complicit in the case. The Mayor, according to the prosecution, assaulted Alakhverdiev physically, forced him to apologize on record and pressured him to wipe his face with his urine.
The Prosecutor’s Office also said that it had pressed charges against three other persons, among them – MP Azer Suleimanov of the United National Movement; Ramin Alakhvediev, member of the Marneuli municipality council from the Georgian Dream party, and a relative of Temur Abazov (identified as e.g).
According to the Prosecutor’s Office, Elchin Alakhvediev was called to the local UNM office by one of the party members on June 10, shortly after he recorded a live Facebook video insulting the wives of Ivanishvili and Abazov. The prosecution said the three men first assaulted Alakhverdiev physically, and then transferred him to Temur Abazov.
The investigation against Abazov has been launched under article 1443 of the criminal code of Georgia, involving degrading and inhuman treatment and punishable by imprisonment from five to ten years, while the three other suspects are facing violence charges under article 126 of the criminal code of Georgia, which is punishable by imprisonment for up to two years.
The prosecution clarified that MP Suleimanov would not be stripped of his MP credentials, considering that he committed a minor crime under the country’s legislation. It also said the prosecutors would demand bail for Suleimanov and imprisonment for Temur Abazov.
MP Azer Suleimanov confirmed that he was present in the party office, but denied his involvement in the abuse. Suleimanov claimed he simply asked Alakhverdiev why he talked on behalf of the United National Movement when, in fact, he was a member of the Georgian Dream party. He also said he had no information on subsequent developments.