Deceased Cameraman Assailants Sentenced Five Years in Jail

The Tbilisi City Court today ruled five-year prison sentences for six persons over attacking now-deceased TV Pirveli cameraman Aleksandre Lashkarava, as well as TV Pirveli journalist Miranda Baghaturia and a Public Broadcaster cameraman during July 5 homophobic pogroms in Tbilisi.

Georgia’s Prosecutor’s Office said that the Court fully shared their investigative findings.

The six assailants were convicted over the participation in group violence on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity (Criminal Code, Art. 225’2), interference with journalistic work (Article 154’2), Persecution (Article 156’2 a & c) and intentionally inflicting less severe health damage with associated prolonged health impairment (Article 118’3).

Miranda Baghaturia, who worked together with Aleksandre Lashkarava on July 5, thanked Judge Nino Eliashvili for the verdict, noting that the sentence for the assailants lived up to her expectations.

“My part of justice and that of our journalists were restored in this episode,” she said, adding that perpetrators should serve in jail for journalists to continue their work in a safe environment.

Earlier, Baghaturia recalled that at least 20 people were involved in the beating of Lashkarava as their crew were reporting from the homophobic rally attacking the Shame Movement office, one of the co-organizers of Tbilisi Pride parade.

The ruling comes as no Russia-leaning alt-right organizers of the homophobic pogrom, that targeted over 50 journalists, have been arrested so far some nine months after the dramatic events in July.

Also, only 27 perpetrators have been arrested or convicted so far, despite many more taking part in violence against over 50 media representatives.

The Background

Aleksandre Lashkarava, camera operator of government-critical TV Pirveli, was found dead on July 11, few days after crowds against attempted LGBT+ pride parade assaulted over 50 journalists, including Lashkarava.

Soon after Lashkarava’s death, police floated the idea thathe died of a narcotics overdose, not far-right attack in an apparent attempt to mitigate growing anger against the government.

On the next day, police unveiled an interim post-mortem chemical expertise that found traces of several narcotics. But Lashkarava’s family, friends and colleagues voiced distrust in the forensics and argued the authorities were attempting to discredit the deceased journalist.

His mother and independent expert Gejadze, both said Lashkarava was treated with morphine for the severe pain following surgery he had to undergo after the alt-right attack.

In early January 2022, few hours after UNESCO added Lashkarava to the list of killed journalists, an autopsy report (prepared by the National Forensics Bureau for the Interior Ministry) was leaked to media, identifying “the acute cardiovascular and respiratory failure developed as a result of intoxication with the drug heroin” as a cause of his passing.

The timing and the way the report was disclosed raised further concerns and doubts among the lawyers of the Lashkarava’s family.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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