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Family Calls for Doctor Gaprindashvili’s ‘Unconditional, Immediate’ Release from Tskhinvali Custody

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The family of Georgian doctor Vazha Gaprindashvili, who has been sentenced to two-month pretrial custody for “illegally crossing the border” in occupied Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia in mid-November, held a news briefing on December 9, calling for his unconditional and immediate release from Tskhinvali jail.

Tamila Lapanashvili, wife of illegally detained Georgian doctor considers there is a lack of coordination among the state agencies, and that the family is being provided with insufficient information about Gaprindashvili’s release.

Lapanashvili also noted that although the state officials have been engaged in negotiations aimed to release Gaprindashvili since the very beginning, their promises that the doctor would be immediately released remain unfulfilled, as he is still kept in Tskhinvali custody.

A month after Vazha Gaprindashvili’s detention, his wife called on the Government of Georgia “to make more efficient steps,” and establish an inter-agency commission.

Ahead of the upcoming 50th round of Geneva International Discussions (GID) on December 10-11, Lapanashvili called on its participants “to use all of the levers, feel the full responsibility, and severity of the problem.” Furthermore, the family called on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet Jeria, to get involved in negotiations.

“[Let them] consider Vazha not only as a citizen of Georgia, but rather as a citizen of the Council of Europe (CoE) member state, and make an agreement on Vazha’s unconditional and immediate release,” Lapanashvili said, announcing that at 10 am tomorrow, a rally will be held in front of the UN headquarter in Geneva ahead of the GID.

At today’s news briefing, Tamila Lapanashvili recalled the day when her husband was detained, saying that on November 9, when their family was sharing their plans for weekend, Vazha said he had to visit a patient in Kaspi (a municipality near the occupation line) and return soon.

“Then followed a phone call that entirely overturned our life,” Lapanashvili said, referring to her husband calling her to say that he was detained by “Russian border guards,” who were taking him allegedly to “Tskhinvali jail.” “As soon as we found out that Vazha Gaprindashvili was illegally detained, we immediately informed the relevant agencies,” Lapanashvili added.

According to her, the same evening, the family was summoned to the Gori regional police department, where they were told that Gaprindashvili was detained at one of the Russian military bases. Lapanashvili said, they were also told that following a court hearing next Monday, her husband would have been released.

However, it was not until Wednesday, November 13, when occupied Tskhinvali reported that the Georgian doctor was charged with “illegally crossing the border” under article 322 of the criminal code of Russia. A number of meetings have been held and statements delivered, calling for Gaprindashvili’s release, however, the family feels disappointed as no results have been achieved so far.

Hoping that her husband will be finally released and return to family during this week, Tamila Lapanashvili said if no attempts yield any result, they will choose “more radical forms of protest.”

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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