TV Pirveli cameraman Aleksandre (Lekso) Lashkarava, who was physically assaulted by homophobic far-right mob during anti-Tbilisi Pride demonstrations in downtown Tbilisi on July 5, was found dead in his appartment.
Police reported earlier this morning that they launched probe into the death case under the Article 115 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, involving incitement to suicide. An exact cause of death is yet to be established. Police said relevant forensic medical examination will be appointed.
TV Pirveli reported that Lashkarava’s mother refused state-led forensic autopsy and resisted, albeit in vain, the police to take the journalist’s corpse to the examination. “I was an expert for forty years myself… I know how it is happens at the forensic examination.” Video footages show police rushing the corpse downstairs.
The cameraman was assaulted by the far-right mob, while covering extreme-right’s assault on Shame Movement office, local activist group that co-organized now-cancelled Tbilisi Pride march, right behind the Georgian Parliament building.
Lashkarava reportedly sustained various injuries, including concussion, facial bone fractures and contusions. He underwent surgery at hospital, but was discharged later and continued treatment home.
TV Pirveli journalist Miranda Baghaturia, who worked together with Lashkarava during the incident, was quoted as recalling that “for twenty minutes [he] was beaten up mercilessly. I was held back by 15 [far-right] men at a stair railing, shouting ‘don’t kill him,’ I was pinched and kicked, 20 men dragged down Lekso and he was not in sight.”
At least 53 journalists were assaulted, both verbally and physically on July 5 during homophobic violence. The Ministry of Interior of Georgia arrested a total of 19 persons so far, 16 of them for violence against journalists and interfering in their professional activities.
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This article was updated at 18:40. Details about forensic examination were added.