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Charges Tightened Against Journalist Assailants

The Prosecutor’s Office said today it brought new charges against three men arrested for assaulting Vakho Sanaia, anchor of Formula TV, channel critical to the Georgian Dream Government.

New charges include articles 151 and 156 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, involving threats and persecution, respectively, and punished by imprisonment for a term of three years. The three men were already charged with violence committed by a group against two or more individuals, under Article 126 of the Criminal Code.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office (POG), the three men assaulted Vakho Sanaia and insulted him both verbally and physically over to his professional activities. One of the perpetrators even “threatened to kill him,” the Prosecutor said. The POG added that Sanaia sustained various bodily injuries.

The Prosecutor’s Office has already filed a relevant motion to the Tbilisi City Court. The hearing into the case is currently underway.

Vakho Sanaia and his relatives were assaulted on the night of February 24-25, in Tbilisi’s Vake district. The journalist said that the incident occurred when he was returning from Tbilisi airport with his wife, sister-in-law, infant child, and child’s babysitter, and the car broke down. While the family was waiting for the emergency tow, one of the men, loitering nearby, recognized the journalist, approached him, and tried to provoke him.

President Salome Zurabishvili, PM Irakli Garibashvili, and Speaker Archil Talakvadze condemned the violence yesterday. Local civil society organizations also condemned the incident, albeit noted that this was the result of propaganda unleashed against critical media by pro-government actors. Rights Georgia, a local advocacy group, appealed to the Prosecutor’s Office to consider intolerance as an aggravating factor in the incident, and press additional charges on the suspects, under Article 53 (1) of the Criminal Code of Georgia.


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