Former ruling Georgian Dream MP, judoka Zurab Zviadauri, detained in August on intentional killing charges, was released today on GEL 50,000 (USD 16,000) bail, Telavi District Court confirmed to Civil.ge.
Zviadauri, who secured Georgia’s first-ever gold Olympic medal back in 2004, is accused of shooting dead 27-year-old Nika Kenchoshvili on August 16, 2021, near the village of Tsinandali, in the eastern Kakheti region. According to the police, a brawl between several men, including Zviadauri, led to a shoot-out, where Kenchoshvili wounded two and killed two others, including Zviadauri’s brother Zviad Zviadauri and another man Vasil Tsotskhalashvili, who reportedly was the first to open fire during the incident.
Zviadauri’s defense had claimed the star athlete shot in self-defense, he has reportedly pleaded not guilty. The prosecution, however, has argued Zviadauri was seeking revenge.
In August, alongside Zviadauri, the police arrested another man Jaba Jangirashvili – whose gun, according to police, was used by Tsotskhalashvili during the incident – for negligent storage of a firearm, resulting in the loss of human life. He was also released today on GEL 5,000 (USD 1,600) bail.
Prosecution Slams the Court’s Decision
The Prosecutor’s Office has slammed the Court’s decision as “unreasonable.” In a statement, issued late on November 29, the prosecution said they had fully substantiated their argument demanding to uphold the pre-trial detention as a measure of restraint against Zviadauri and Jangirashvili, citing “real dangers” their release could entail, including committing new offenses or influencing witnesses.
It is unclear what was the basis of the decision and what circumstances were considered by Telavi District Court Judge Mamuka Tsiklauri, the prosecution said.
They also noted that since the decision was made at a pre-trial hearing, they could not appeal the ruling in a higher Court.
The case has divided the public in Georgia. Some, including several famous athletes and former GD MP Zakaria Kutsnashvili, backed the star and vouched for the suspect back in summer, but the court refused to bail him out back then. Others fear Zviadauri’s position and contacts might help him evade justice.
This article was updated at 11:55 on November 30 to include the prosecution’s statement.