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First President’s son sentenced to two months of pre-trial detention

By Mzia Kupunia
Monday, November 2
Tsotne Gamsakhurdia, son of Georgia’s first President Zviad Gamsakhurdia, was sentenced to two months of preliminary detention on October 29. Tbilisi city court has charged him with attempted murder and illegal possession of a weapon.

Police detained Gamsakhurdia on October 27 for allegedly wounding his neighbour Davit Bajelidze, presumably after arguing with him. Gamsakhurdia denies the charge. His advocate Keti Bekauri has said that Gamsakhurdia was assaulted by an unknown man at night on his way home. “He lost consciousness and when he recovered he was already in hospital,” Bekauri said. She demanded Gamsakhurdia’s release on the grounds of “lack of sufficient evidence.” “No weapon was found at the scene of the incident,” Bekauri noted.

The advocate said she will appeal against the Court decision. She also claimed that Gamsakhurdia should be taken to hospital. “He has a head injury and needs to be moved urgently from jail to hospital,” she stated. Gamsakhurdia began a hunger strike on October 28, demanding his release.

Gamsakhurdia’s family suggests he is a victim of Government provocation. His mother, Manana Archvadze, and about 50 of her supporters held a protest rally on Wednesday in front of the Georgian Parliament, demanding Gamsakhurdia’s release. One of the protestors, Klara Shukvani, said on October 30 that she would start a hunger strike in front of the Georgian Public Defender’s Office with the same demand. “Gamsakhurdia’s life is in danger. He was detained illegally,” Shukvani said, calling on other supporters to join her strike.

This is the second time Tsotne Gamsakhurdia has been detained. He was arrested in September 2008 and charged with espionage in favour of Moscow and allegedly participating in an attempted coup d’etat against President Mikheil Saakashvili. The authorities released a videotape after November 7, 2007, when riot police dispersed demonstrators on Rustaveli Avenue, which allegedly showed Gamsakhurdia meeting Russian diplomats. In an audio tape released the same day Gamsakhurdia was heard speaking to his brother Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, one of the leaders of the opposition, telling him that the opposition had lost its momentum after gathering several thousands of people on Rustaveli Avenue on November 2. Tsotne Gamsakhurdia was released later in September on GEL 20,000 bail, but no charges were dropped.