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Tbilisi City Court sentences man 12 years in prison for terrorist activities

By Messenger Staff
Friday, August 12
Tbilisi City Court sentenced a Georgian man to 12 years in prison for being a member of a terrorist organisation and participating in operations conducted by the organisation on August 9.

The court accepted evidence provided by Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office which claimed that a 30-year-old Georgian citizen from the country’s eastern, mainly Muslim-populated Pankisi Gorge, David Borchashvili, was a member of the Islamic State.

“Borchashvili joined the terrorist organisation in Syria and was actively participating in armed military operations,” the Prosecutor’s Office said in the statement after the Court's verdict was announced.

Borchashvili was detained by law enforcers at Tbilisi Shota Rustaveli International Airport on November 22 last year.

Borchashvili’s family were adamant that he had never been in Syria.

However, a video released on the Internet after his detention showed Borchashvili in a foreign country with armed people in a military vehicle.

Borchashvili’s lawyer, Gela Nikolaishvili, claimed that the man had connections with Syria’s Free Army, which was not a terrorist group, and fought against the Islamic State and the Russian-backed, President Bashar al-Assad.

Borchashvili can appeal Tbilisi City Court’s verdict to the Court of Appeals.

Last year, Georgia introduced harsh punishments for those affiliated with any terrorist groups.

There are no official figures as the numbers of Georgian Muslims fighting for IS, but many young Georgians from the mainly Kist–populated Pankisi Gorge travelled to Syria and Iraq through Turkey.

One of the most famous leaders of the Islamic State (IS), who was reported as dead by US and IS affiliated media this year, Tarkhan Batirashvili, was also from Pankisi Gorge area.

The relevant state bodies must be very cautious of such incidents, as terrorism is an international threat. Providing better opportunities for the Pankisi Gorge population, increasing their knowledge of terrorism and human rights issues could also help reduce the flow of Georgians travelling abroad to fight for a fundamentalist cause.