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Ex-deputy interior minister sentenced to pre-trial detention

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, September 30
Tbilisi City Court sentenced Georgia’s ex-Deputy Interior Minister, Giorgi Lortkipanidze, to pre-trial detention for exceeding his official powers during a peaceful opposition rally on May 26 2011, under the previous United National Movement (UNM) Government.

Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office reported that Georgia’s ex-top officials “brutally dispersed a peaceful opposition rally” protesting the UNM's governance on May 26 on Rustaveli Ave and Freedom Square in central Tbilisi.

The Office stressed that the dispersal was planned by Georgia’s ex-Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili, and Lortkipanidze was tasked to disperse and detain the protesters with other state officials of the time.

About a week ago, the Prosecutor’s office also charged four former top police officials over the case.

Lortkipanidze now serves as the head of the main police department of Odessa in Ukraine, alongside Georgia’s ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, the Governor of Odessa.

He said his charges related to the rally and sending to pre-trial detention was related to the upcoming, October 8 Parliamentary Elections, as the current ruling Georgian Dream authorities wished to “attract votes”.

He added he was in Georgia when the current authorities launched investigation over the case, but there was “no evidence” proving his involvement in the incident.

Lortkipanidze also said he intended to come to Georgia on October 15 and answer all the authorities' questions.

However, later Lortkipanidze’s lawyer told the media he didn’t know whether the ex-Interior Minister would return to Georgia or not, but he stressed the City Court’s verdict would be appealed.

If found guilty Lortkipanidze will face five to eight years behind bars.

Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office said that during the May 26 rally, where protesters were blocked by police, two men died, more than 250 were injured and more than 800 illegally detained.