Zaza Gakheladze, a Georgian citizen illegally detained by the Kremlin-backed Tskhinvali authorities, was sentenced to twelve years and six months in prison, the State Security Service of Georgia (SSG) reported on February 5.
Gakheladze, a resident of village Kvemo Chala of Kaspi Municipality, adjacent to Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia occupation line, was reportedly shot and wounded by occupation forces prior to taking him to Tskhinvali custody in July last year.
Reports said today that the Georgian citizen has been convicted under Articles 317 and 322 of the Russian Criminal Code, involving “assault on the life of a law enforcement officer” and “illegal crossing of the state border.”
“The unlawful ruling of the so-called court of the occupied Tskhinvali once again demonstrated the inhumane and criminal essence of the occupation processes, for which the Russian Federation is responsible as a force exercising effective control over the occupied territories,” the SSG said.
It added that Tbilisi authorities have been employing all available tools since the first day of Gakheladze’s detention, and the issue has been significantly featuring on the agenda of Georgia’s international partners.
“With joint efforts, everything is being done to return illegally detained Zaza Gakheladze to his family,” the SSG maintained.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia expressed “extreme concern” over the ruling, dubbing it a “provocative decision by Russia’s occupation regime in Tskhinvali.”
The ruling demonstrates Russia’s “destructive plans” to destabilize Georgia, the MFA said, “despite the fact that Moscow continues to declaredly state about its wishes for dialogue and cooperation.”
The Ministry noted that the court’s decision is particularly concerning against the background of the January 21 judgment by the European Court of Human Rights, confirming Russian occupation of Georgia’s regions and holding Russia to account for grave human rights violations on the ground.
“We address the international community to appropriately assess another provocation by the Russian occupation regime, and to take effective measures for the release of the illegally detained Georgian citizen,” the MFA highlighted.
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