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Court Convicts 14 in July Media Attacks

The Tbilisi City Court delivered yesterday two rulings to find fourteen persons guilty for the series of attacks against journalists covering the violent alt-right protest against the planned LGBT pride parade of July 5, 2021, in Tbilisi.

In one ruling, seven suspects were convicted over an episode of attacks on one reporter and cameraman each of Mtavari Arkhi TV, Imedi TV, RFE/RL’s Georgian-language service, a journalist each from Formula TV and online media outlet Tabula, and a cameraman of Rustavi 2 TV.

Of the seven persons, four went to prison for fifteen months, three for fourteen months, while one received a fine of GEL 5,000 (USD 1,600), according to media reports.

Meanwhile, with the other ruling, seven other suspects were found guilty in the second series of attacks on a journalist for Rustavi 2 TV, one photographer each from Formula TV and online media outlet Newposts, and a Georgian Public Broadcaster cameraman.

The court ruled a three-year prison term for three of the convicts, and a one-year prison sentence for four, according to media reports.

Investigators led the probe into the various incidents during the homophobic pogroms of July 5 in Tbilisi under Article 225.2 of the Criminal Code — participating in organized group violence, Article 154.2 — unlawful interference with journalists’ professional activities and Article 156.2a — persecution using violence or threat of violence.

However, the Tbilisi City Court yesterday did not find any of the suspects guilty of participating in organized group violence. Prosecutor Levan Popkhadze was cited in the media as saying that the prosecution will appeal the “absolutely incorrect decision” in the second instance court.

Also on April 4, the Tbilisi City Court 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 on July 5.

Earlier in March, the Court in its first ruling on the homophobic pogroms case, sentenced a man accused of attacking a Palitra News TV cameraman Beka Mshvildadze on July 6, 2021 to two years in prison.

In total, the police have detained 27 persons in connection with the series of attacks against more than 50 journalists on July 5-6. As things stand, 20 have received prison sentences and one has received a fine.

Meanwhile, 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.

Public Defender of Georgia, Nino Lomjaria has requested the authorities to launch criminal proceedings against Zurab Makharadze, far-right Alt-Info TV outlet anchor and chair of Russia-friendly political party, Conservative Movement, and Spiridon Tskipurishvili, a Georgian Orthodox clergyman, over organizing group violence on July 5.

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

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