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Police detains more people over Batumi unrest

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, March 20
The law enforcers detained the people in Batumi, Georgia’s Black Sea city for hooliganism and resisting arrest overnight the March 11-12. All together more than a dozen were detained with the same charges, among them to under-aged youngsters. Later one was released in exchange for 3000 GEL bail, and the other was sentenced to pre-trial detention with the remaining four people.

The arrests were confirmed by the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia (POG), which claimed that the detained were charged under Article 225 §2 (participation in group violence) and Article 3531 §§1-2 (an assault on police officers or other representatives of the authorities or on the official building while on their official duties). The Criminal Code of Georgia entail the deprivation of liberty for a term of seven to eleven years as a penalty for this crime.

“They were trying to storm the police building by force but police officers, mobilized to protect public order, prevented them of doing this…the detained people inflicted injuries to police officers, and damaged, burnt and destroyed police service vehicles as well as vehicles of private owners. They also destroyed city infrastructure worth GEL 132,770,” the statement of the POG reads.

The confrontation between Batumi locals and law enforcement officers in Batumi started on March 11, when a man and his companion refused to accept a fine for parking the car in the wrong location.

The police detained six people for resistance, this led to a larger protest of hundreds of locals, who gathered at the police department and demanded the release of the detained and the resignation of the local police chief. According to some politicians and analysts, the brutal confrontation looked like pre-staged. The unrest which took place in Batumi was right in the center of the city at the place, which was under the control of surveillance video eyes and almost all the moves were recorded.

Once the situation escalated, the young rioters began throwing stones, damaging cars, and setting fire to nearby vehicles, causing the police to respond with tear gas and rubber bullets.

A total of 33 people required medical attention; 15 of them were police officers.

An investigation into the case is still in progress, with officers looking to identify other people who participated in the riot.