“The imprisonment of Zaza Gakheladze by the ‘Court’ of occupied Tskhinvali was preceded by the wounding of Gakheladze by Russian occupation forces with a firearm, and his detention, which resulted in several months of illegal detention on fabricated and absurd charges,” the State Security Service of Georgia said in a statement, responding to today’s decision of the Supreme Court of the self-proclaimed republic of South Ossetia to sentence the Georgian citizen residing in the village of Kvemo Chala, near the occupation line, to 12 years and 6 months in prison.
The state agency noted that the international community has repeatedly taken a consolidated position regarding the violent and illegal actions of the occupation forces against Zaza Gakheladze, and has condemned the criminal practices that the occupation forces are deliberately establishing in the areas along the occupation line.
“The decision of the ‘Court’ of occupied Tskhinvali once again demonstrates the inhuman and criminal essence of the processes accompanying the occupation, for which the entire responsibility lies with the Russian Federation as a force exercising effective control over the occupied territories.
“From the very first day of Zaza Gakheladze’s illegal detention, the central government has been using all available mechanisms. Also, this issue is an important component of the agenda of our international partners. Through joint efforts, everything is being done to bring Zaza Gakheladze, who is in illegal detention, home to his family,” reads the statement.
Tskhinvali “Court” convicted Gakheladze on two counts of charges – Article 317 of the Russian Criminal Code (encroachment on the life of a law enforcement officer) and Article 322 (illegal crossing of the state border).
The Russian military detained Gakheladze on July 11, 2020, near Skhvilo Fortress. During the arrest, the Georgian citizen was shot in the leg.
Moscow and Tskhinvali claim Gakheladze “Tried to hide and fired about 10 shots towards the Russian servicemen.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Georgia expressed “extreme concerns” over the “provocative decision by Russia’s occupation regime in Tskhinvali.”
By Ana Dumbadze