Georgian Parliament Refuses to Set Up Investigation Commission over Mukhtarli Case

Georgian Parliament has not supported the initiative of the Parliamentary minority over setting up a special investigative Commission over the Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli Case, who was allegedly abducted from Georgia and taken to Baku in May, 2017.

Only 18 MPs voted in favor of the draft resolution, while 22 members voted against it.

In addition to the request of the opposition parties, 35 media and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) based in Georgia also called on Parliament to set up a fact-finding mission over the Mukhtarli case, which raises many questions and doubts among civil society.

On February 20, the organizations released a joint open letter, which reads that serious shortcomings that have been exposed in the course of the investigation launched in Tbilisi, adding that this significantly reduced public trust and expectations of an efficient investigation.

Mukhtarli is a political migrant who left Azerbaijan around four years ago. In Tbilisi, he held protests in front of the Azerbaijan Embassy and wrote about the persecution of Azerbaijani activists in Georgia. He disappeared on May 29, 2017, and the following day was “found” in the Baku police department, where he was accused of “illegal border crossing, smuggling and resistance or application of violence concerning the representative of authority.”

In January, 2018, Mukhtarli was sentenced to six years in prison by the Balakan District Court in Azerbaijan.

Last week, the journalist was released from prison for 48 hours to visit the graves of his underage niece and nephew, who died just before the New Year.

In his brother’s house in an Azerbaijani village, Mukhtarli spoke to Georgia’s local Rustavi 2 TV and described the details of his abduction. He said the Georgian side was involved in his kidnapping, including Georgia’s Prime Minister.

He accuses both the Georgian and Azerbaijani sides of cooperation against him, and claims he is a political prisoner.

The Journalist says the reason for his abduction and transfer is that he, like many other Azeri journalists, is in opposition to the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Alyiev.

By Thea Morrison

26 February 2018 00:15