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Abkhaz ‘Deputy Interior Ministers,’ Lawmakers Face Probe over Sokhumi Incident

Abkhaz ‘deputy interior ministers’ Rash Tsvizhba and Dadin Chachkhalia, as well as lawmaker Garri Kokaia are facing criminal investigation in connection to controversial September 30 shooting incident and subsequent brawl involving Kokaia, war veterans from Adziubzha village and police officials on Sokhumi promenade, Rustaveli street.

Presenting the results of a pre-investigation check on October 11, Abkhaz chief prosecutor Adgur Agrba said the ‘deputy interior ministers’ are probed for the abuse of authority with violence or threats of violence under article 288/3(a) of the occupied region’s criminal code, carrying a five- to ten-year prison sentence.

The preliminary inquiry also concluded that lawmaker Kokaia’s actions showed signs of a criminal offense under article 207 (hooliganism) and article 321 (insulting the authorities). Kokaia allegedly fired a gun into the air and afterward refused to hand it over to ‘interior minister’ Dmitri Dbar – actions that led the brawl between veterans and police.

The prosecution also incriminated another lawmaker Almaskhan Ardzinba, who, following the incident, purportedly drove his car past ‘the ministry’ building and fired 20 shots at it. The chief prosecutor reportedly said they have all the evidence but cannot search Ardzinba’s home for the weapon, who is protected by legislative immunity.

To open criminal cases against the lawmakers, the prosecution vows to appeal to the ‘supreme court,’ that has to rule on the presence of corpus delicti in their actions. Afterward, the prosecution will appeal to the legislative body to greenlight the opening of the criminal cases, according to Agrba’s statements in the meeting.

Prosecutor’s office did not see any misdemeanor in the actions of minister Dmitri Dbar. The prosecutor reportedly argued that Dbar’s initial demands to Kokaia to hand over his gun following the shooting was lawful. Besides, per the witness accounts, he did not insult or use violence against the veterans, nor did he see their assault by his subordinates

The prosecution considered, however, that since Dbar was unable to prevent the incident, it is necessary to ask Aslan Bzhania, Abkhaz leader for disciplinary sanctions against the ‘minister’ and to evaluate the soundness of his stay in office.

Meanwhile, on October 11, scores of war veterans and their supporters from Adziubzha have rallied at the major highway near their village, demanding full resignation of Dbar, who only requested temporary suspension from his functions during the course of investigation. They concluded to wait for the return of Aslan Bzhania, who is currently on a working trip to Moscow.

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