The Tbilisi City Court today released 66-year-old Ushangi Datunashvili, accused of attacking a Rustavi 2 TV cameraman during the July 5 homophobic pogroms, on bail of GEL 3,000 (USD 1,000).
Police detained Datunashvili on July 21, 2021. He is charged with participating in group violence (Article 225.2, Criminal Code), unlawful interference with journalists’ professional activities (Article 154.2), and persecution using violence or threat of violence (Article 156.2a).
TV Pirveli reported the suspect’s lawyer, Nikoloz Mzhavanadze, had requested the Court to replace Datunashvili’s pretrial detention with bail over health-related issues.
Mzhavanadze also claimed there was no video evidence against his client and the Rustavi 2 cameraman did not have complaints against the suspect.
The development comes as the Court previously released on bail all the three persons detained over the ransacking of the Tbilisi Pride office during the July 5 pogroms.
In total, police detained 27 persons over the various attacks on more than 50 journalists that took place on July 5-6. None of the suspects have been sentenced yet.
The Georgian Government has faced domestic and international criticism as law enforcers have yet to identify and press charges against the organizers of the mass violence seven months later.
Background on the July 5 Homophobic Pogroms
Ahead of the planned July 5 Pride March, Georgian far-right group and TV network Alt-Info had called for supporters to rally against the LGBT rights demonstration, while the Georgian Orthodox Church organized prayer in front of the Kashveti Church, on Rustaveli Avenue.
The situation became tense in the morning on July 5, as far-right crowds gathered on Rustaveli avenue violently dismantled anti-government protest tents outside the Parliament.
Then a series of violent events ensued as the anti-gay crowds began to attack journalists covering the counterprotest.
The hate groups also stormed the office of Tbilisi Pride and attempted to break into the office of the Shame Movement, the organizers of the Pride March. TV Pirveli cameraman Lekso Lashkarava was brutally assaulted when covering the attack on the Shame Movement office, and he died six days later. While the authorities have published excerpts from the autopsy claiming he died of drug overdose, Lashkarava’s family, friends and colleagues do not trust the forensics.
The Pride March was canceled on July 5 amid the unchecked violence and the lack of safety guarantees by the state.
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili had argued ahead of the turmoil that holding the Pride March on Rustaveli Avenue would be unreasonable and had claimed that “radical opposition” was behind Tbilisi Pride.
- Watchdog Says Probes into July 5 Homophobic Pogroms Ineffective
- Public Defender Demands Prosecutions Against Homophobic Pogrom Organizers
- U.S. Concerned as Media Attack Organizers Remain at Large
- EU Embassies to Georgia Gov’t: Recent Events ‘Cast Shadow Over EU-Georgia Relations’