Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), local human rights watchdog, said on October 28 that the Tbilisi City Court ruled not to grant victim status to 16 persons, including eight journalists, who sustained injuries during the June 20-21 developments.
GYLA explained that it applied to court on behalf of victims on October 11 after the Prosecutor’s Office refused to grant them victim status.
According to GYLA, the court explained that in order to recognize a person as a victim, it should be ascertained whether a crime has been committed and which particular crime has caused harm to a victim.
Slamming the court’s explanation as “unjustified and illegal,” GYLA said that it contradicts the criminal procedure code of Georgia.
“The court neglects a clear circumstance that the victims have sustained injuries of various gravities, including several victims have lost their eyes that confirms the existence of a crime. In spite of it, the court ruling makes the very fact of committing a crime disputable,” GYLA noted.
Speaking at a news briefing on October 28, Sulkhan Saladze, head of GYLA, said that the court actually continues the line of investigative bodies, saying that police officers have not committed a crime during the June 20-21 developments.
“This a priori rules out the fact that the case will be investigated; most importantly, the state does not recognize the fact that specific persons sustained injuries and that it does not believe the crime did take place,” he added.
Tensions mounted around 10pm Tbilisi time that night, when part of the protestors tried to break through the first cordon of the police, but were pushed back by the riot police. Situation remained tense overnight.
240 people, including 80 police officers and over 30 journalists have been treated for injuries. Many severe injuries to civilians occurred later during the night after the police dispersed protestors through massive use of tear gas and rubber bullets, including so called “less-lethal” rounds.
Investigation into the fact of exceeding official powers by law enforcement officers was launched on June 24.
Three police officers have been detained, charged with excessive use of force powers in connection with the June 20-21 developments; all of them have been released on bail later.
19 people have been charged with violence committed as a group, including Irakli Okruashvili, Georgia’s former defense minister and now leader of opposition movement, and Nika Melia, lawmaker of the United National Movement.
Melia and three more protesters were released on bail. However, 15 other people, including Okruashvili, remain in custody.