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MIA detains man who allegedly attacked ex-cabinet Minister Alex Petriashvili

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, March 9
Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) has announced it has opened the case of the attack on the ex-cabinet minister and one of the leaders of the opposition Free Democrats (FD) party, Alex Petriashvili.

The MIA said late on March 7 that a man identified as Levan M, 41, was detained in Georgia’s eastern Borjomi town, who, along with his friend, allegedly shot and physically assaulted Petriashvili in central Tbilisi on February 26.

Later it was revealed the full name of the alleged assaulter was Levan Mekvabishvili.

The MIA has not revealed the motive of the attack as the investigation is still in progress.

Police said Mekvabishvili’s partner was still wanted.

The MIA announced that the detainee used hammer to cause head injuries on Petriashvili, then shot him and hit him with a club.

Law-enforcers found the hammer and the alleged offender’s cap at the Saburtalo Cemetery, where the attack took place.

The MIA said that DNA found on the hammer matched Mekvabishvili’s DNA sample. The blood spots on the tool also matched Alex Petriashvili’s genetic profile.

Mekvabishvili said he was using his right to remain silent. However, his lawyer made a short comment, saying that the attack seemed to be motivated by a “non-political, everyday problem”. The lawyer also said Mekvabishvili did not know Petriashvili well as they met for a short period of time and had had a personal dispute.

The FD welcomed the arrest of one of the alleged attackers, but said the case could not be described as open until both attackers are arrested.

The FD also demanded the investigation of the case on the charge of attempted premeditated murder, and not for premeditated assault causing serious bodily harm, the charge on which the MIA had originally launched the investigation.

A Prosecutor’s Office representative said the case could be re-qualified if other, additional evidence emerged in the process of the investigation.

Petriashvili, who has partially recovered from his wounds and has been released from the hospital, has not yet commented on the recent arrest. However, he has already been questioned and, as his allies said, he remembered every detail of the attack and relayed them to law enforcers.

Petriashvili, Georgia’s former Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, suffered three wounds and bodily injures when brought to the Tbilisi Republican Hospital shortly after the attack on February 26, at the Saburtalo cemetery, where he had visited his friend’s grave with his two friends.

He has undertaken two operations so far.