Ex-Police Official Sentenced to 4.6 Years in Prison

Former police official and current lawyer Giorgi Oniani was found guilty on various charges, including fabricating evidence, political persecution and illegal detention, and sentenced to 4 years and 6 months in prison.

He was also deprived the right to work in the public sector or to hold office, for a term of 2 years and 3 months.

Following the declaration of the verdict, Oniani was arrested in the courtroom on November 7.

The investigation revealed that in late 2011, when the now opposition party the United National Movement (UNM), was in power, Oniani, serving as the deputy chief of Tbilisi’s Gldani-Nadzaladevi police department, illegally detained Davit Shatirishvili, Manager of Dato Prints, for making Georgian Dream T-shirts in 2011, and charged him with drug trafficking by planting drugs on him. According to the investigation, another supporter of Georgian Dream, Levan Mdinaradze, nicknamed DJ Rembo, was also detained in the same way. 

One of the leaders of the UNM, Nika Melia, said Oniani was detained because he is a member of the National Movement. 

“The National Movement will not give up, and will continue to fight against the Government,” he added.

Parliamentary minority, European Georgia, says Oniani is a political prisoner. As Otar Kakhidze, member of European Georgia said, the case is the weakest in terms of evidence.

“We have another political prisoner, and European Georgia will do its best to free him," said Kakhidze.

Founder of the UNM, and ex-president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili also commented on the arrest of Oniani. According to him, the detention of Oniani is a difficult but temporary case.

“I'm outraged over the fact that Giorgi Oniani was put in prison. It is a sick decision for people to declare him as a criminal. He is really a great lawyer and has helped many people. I would never imagine that this was possible, but this is temporary,” Saakashvili commented from Kyiv.

Oniani's lawyer, Malkhaz Velijanashvili, says he will appeal the decision of the City Court.

"If the Court had objectively considered all the evidence, it would have been impossible to make such a decision. I think that the verdict is illegal, and the defense will appeal against this in the court of Appeal,” said the lawyer.

By Thea Morrison

07 November 2017 22:31