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Interior Minister summoned to Parliament over Mukhtarli case

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, June 21
The United National Movement (UNM) and Movement for Freedom-European Georgia opposition call on the Interior Minister, Giorgi Mghebrishvili, to come to Parliament and answer questions over the case of Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli, who was allegedly abducted from Tbilisi on May 29 and taken to Baku, Azerbaijan.

The parties claim that there are too many question marks over the case and allege that the Georgian side participated in the transfer of Mukhtarli to the neighboring country.

Akaki Minashvili from the UNM says that the Georgian side destroyed the recordings removed from the street surveillance cameras which showed his kidnap.

“Everybody knows well, including the parliamentary majority, that Georgian special services were involved in kidnapping the Azeri journalist, and they not only thoroughly investigated the incident but destroyed the evidence,” Minashvili stressed.

The leaders of the European Georgia party say that legislation obliges the Interior Minister to come to Parliament and answer the questions of the opposition.

"This is a very sad practice when the government does not respect Parliament as an institution and, of course, a minority. This is the case which greatly damaged Georgia’s image on the international arena and it has also damaged our democracy,” Sergi Kapanadze from European Georgia stated.

Georgia’s Parliament Speaker, Irakli Kobakhidze, says that all kinds of parliamentary formats will be used to monitor Mukhtarli’s case.

“We are observing the case and we have questions. If necessary, all parliamentary formats will be used to discuss this case,” Kobakhidze commented.

The Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, called on everyone to wait for the results of the investigation.

“Making preliminary conclusions will not be correct. The investigation is ongoing. We should try and let the state institutions to conduct the necessary procedures,” he added.

Afgan Mukhtarli is a political migrant who left Azerbaijan three years ago. In Tbilisi, he has held protests in front of Azerbaijan’s embassy and recently wrote about the persecution of Azerbaijani activists in Georgia.

He disappeared on May 29 and next day the journalist was found in a Baku police department. Mukhtarli told his lawyer that he was detained and forced into a car near his house in Tbilisi by Georgian Special Service officers. He said that he was beaten and 10,000 euros were planted on him.

The Azerbaijani authorities accused Mukhtarli of illegally crossing the border and smuggling, and the court sentenced him to three-month pre-trial detention.