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Georgian Dream MPs Slam ‘Emotional’ Public Defender Over Melia Remarks

Senior ruling Georgian Dream party lawmakers lined up to criticize Public Defender Nino Lomjaria on February 23, over her condemnation of UNM chair Nika Melia’s detention as “disgraceful.” Lomjaria also said the top opposition leader’s detention would drift Georgia away from the West.

Georgian Dream parliamentary faction chair Mamuka Mdinaradze said Lomjaria “will have to” substantiate her “emotional” statement and “the motives behind it” in the Georgian Parliament.

Vice-Speaker Gia Volski also weighed in, saying Public Defender “better desist from [making] emotional statements,” and instead assess legal matters – whether police used excessive force during the raid, or if the Court made the “correct decision” to detain Melia.

“She is the [United National Movement] Defender,” MP Volski added, accusing Lomjaria of turning a blind eye to alleged public insults toward state officials’ rights.

Georgian Dream MP Tea Tsulukiani, former Justice Minister said she does not regard the Public Defender to be a “serious and a competent” person, claiming that Lomjaria “does not meet with any inmates except for politicians.” Notably, the former Justice Minister has clashed with Lomjaria the last year as well, with Justice Ministry’s Penitentiary Service disclosing video footage featuring meeting between inmates and Public Defender representatives.

Lomjaria responded to MP Volski during her visit to the UNM headquarters after the raid: “Yes, I am, among others, the United National Movement’s defender, because the Ombudsperson shall first defend those who need protection the most. Today, I think, the opposition and especially the UNM are in need of protection.”

Georgian Dream lawmakers, including Gia Volski, “do not know” what the Public Defender is mandated to do, Lomjaria further remarked later, as she arrived to visit Nika Melia in Rustavi Prison.

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