On March 9, the Mtskheta District Court found five persons, including two minors, guilty of the premeditated murder of 19-year-old footballer Giorgi Shakarashvili under aggravating circumstances in June 2020.
The Court sentenced three of the suspects to 16 years in prison, while it will decide the punishment measure for the juveniles in the coming days.
It fully shared the evidence presented by the prosecution, which had charged the persons under Article 109 (2) of the Criminal Code of Georgia, foreseeing imprisonment from 13 to 17 years.
The defense side said the verdict was unexpected, arguing afterward that there was “no evidence” against the suspects, accused of murder. They plan to appeal the ruling in the Appellate Court.
Following the footballer’s death in June 2020, the Court sent 17 persons to pretrial detention on various violence charges. Later in August, the prosecution pressed the murder charges on the five persons, who, according to the authorities, severely beat and threw Shakarashvili into the Aragvi River, which caused his death.
The incident began first by a verbal and physical confrontation among the guests of a birthday party in Mtskheta, that was attended by Shakarashvili. Vakhtang Chikovani, one of those convicted for murder today, was beaten during the brawl, so he then traveled to Tbilisi, mobilized his friends and returned to Mtskheta with them in two cars – Toyota and Mercedes – to take revenge.
As most guests had left the party on foot by then, the investigation found that the passengers of the Mercedes car attacked Shakarashvili’s group on the highway. The Mercedes passengers beat his friends and left the scene, with the young footballer himself managing to escape.
Following the incident, Shakarashvili and his friends continued their path on foot, and the five persons in Toyota Camry overtook them. As the footballers’ group scattered, the five assailants chased down Shakarashvili – leading to his death.
Six others were convicted in November 2020 in connection with the case, on charges of group violence and unlawful confinement.
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