Man Sentenced to 8 Years in Prison for Selling Heroin to Deceased Cameraman

The Tbilisi City Court has ruled eight years of prison sentence for a man charged with selling heroin to Aleksandre Lashkarava, TV Pirveli cameraman a day before the latter’s death on July 11, 2021. Lashkarava, like dozens of his colleagues, was brutally assaulted by anti-gay mob during July 5 homophobic pogroms.

The Prosecutor’s Office said on February 11 that the man, arrested on July 17, 2021, had sold two grams of street drug, known as Siretsi, containing 0.9256 grams of heroin to Lashkarava and eight others for GEL 500 on July 10.

It also said that police had searched and seized a substance containing 9,4984 grams of heroin from his apartment.

The probe was conducted under Article 260(5/6a) of the Criminal Code of Georgia involving the illegal purchase, keeping, and selling of drugs or their analogs in especially large quantities.

A final autopsy report issued by the National Forensics Bureau on January 7, shortly after UNESCO included the deceased cameraman’s name in its observatory of killed journalists for the year 2021, identified “the acute cardiovascular and respiratory failure developed as a result of intoxication with the drug heroin” as a cause of his passing. 

But Lashkarava’s family, friends, and colleagues voiced distrust in the forensics. Georgian Young Lawyers Association, representing the family in the court, noted that their distrust stems from Georgian experts having conducted the autopsy in the Samkharauli National Forensics Bureau, despite the Interior Ministry’s initial public and private offers to the family to have international experts involved in the process.  

Aleksandre Lashkarava, the cameraman of government-critical TV Pirveli, was found dead on July 11, six days after far-right crowd against a planned LGBT+ pride parade assaulted over 50 journalists, including Lashkarava.

Police have arrested 31 persons in connection with the July 5 violence, including 27 persons – for attacking journalists. To date, however, none of them have been convicted in courts. Moreover, police have not yet identified and charged the organizers of the July 5 homophobic pogroms.

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