Court Orders Pre-trial Detention of 6 Connected to Election Day Violence

RUSTAVI, Georgia – The City Court in the Georgian city Rustavi has ordered the pre-trial detention of six young men who have been charged in connection with a violent incident that occurred during parliamentary elections on October 8

The men were arrested on October 13 in villages around the majority Shi’a Muslim Azeri city Marneuli in the days after the elections after the Ministry of Internal Affairs said they had taken part in an attack on a polling station in a nearby village.

The accused men have been charged with assault and disrupting the peace.

Dozens of policemen and civilians were injured as a result of the election day attack.

Family members of the accused gathered at a Marneuli police station to protest their arrest, claiming the men had been wrongfully accused and were beaten by members of the State Security Services’ Special Forces when their places of residence were raided.

The opposition United National Movement’s (UNM) majoritarian candidate in Marneuli, Akhmet Imamkuliyev, claims the men were arrested for being UNM supporters.

“These boys have nothing to do with the October 8 incident. This is political persecution,” Imamkuliyev stressed.

Another UNM member, Irma Nadirashvili says the police treated the accused as if they were terrorists.

The ruling Georgian Dream (GD) refuted all allegations.

Amiran Giorgadze, Head of GD’s Marneuli Office, said the attack on the polling station was staged by Akhmet Imamkuliyev and other local UNM supporters.

The next hearing regarding the case is scheduled for December 6. The relatives of the detainees and UNM members announced that rallies would be held until the arrested men are released.

Marneuli is a city with a predominantly Azeri Shi’a Muslim community.

Located 55 kilometers to the south of the capital Tbilisi. It is considered a key battleground district for Georgia’s two main parties – the ruling Georgian Dream coalition and the opposition United National Movement of former President Mikheil Saakashvili.

By Thea Morrison

Edited by Nicholas Waller




16 October 2016 02:40