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Court Sentences Georgian Actor to 8 Years in Prison for Possession of Drugs

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, January 25
(TBILISI)--Tbilisi City Court judge Shorena Guntsadze sentenced a Georgian actor Giorgi Giorganashvili (Bakhala) to 8 years in prison for possession and purchase of a large amount of drugs.

The statement released by the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia (POG) reads that on January 24, 2017 the officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) stopped the ambulance car on Tbilisi-Senaki-Leselidze Highway and found 22 pills of drugs, containing Buprenorphine in large quantities. Also the MIA found 843 pills and pieces of 2 pills in a medical inventory box, placed in the ambulance car.

The POG explains that the car driver decided to cooperate with the investigation and admitted the drugs were given to him by Giorgi Giorganashvili on the territory of Turkey.

The statement says that on January 25, 2017 MIA stopped Giorganashvili, who was coming to Tbilisi from Batumi and found 45 pills and pieces of 4 pills, containing Buprenorphine, during his personal search.

The actor says he is innocent and accuses the police of planting drugs on him. He also assures he is not linked with the driver of the ambulance car, where large amount of drugs were found before Giorganashvili’s arrest.

“This verdict is absurd. I am not guilty and I will prove this. This repressive drug policy must be changed,” Giorganashvili said at the trial.

The lawyer of the actor, Giorgi Makharadze, says his defendant is innocent and will appeal the decision to the appeals court.

"We will be able to prove that evidence gathered beyond the reasonable doubt cannot confirm Giorgi Giorganashvili's guilt,” the lawyer stressed.

Georgian opposition parties slam the existing drug policy, saying it is not fair to sentence a person to 8 years in prison for possessing drugs.

The United National Movement (UNM) member Zaal Udumashvili says people should not go to prison for possession or consumption of drugs.

“Changing the existing harsh drug policy does not need years of consideration, decisions are necessary now,” he added.

Otar Kakhidze from the European Georgia calls on the government to adopt liberal drug policy, adding the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) takes no steps to solve the existing problem.

Head of Parliamentary Healthcare Committee, Akaki Zoidze believes there is much difference between the consumption and distribution of drugs, adding he believes the verdict on Giorganashvili’s case was “inhumane.”

“I call on my colleges to adopt such a policy that will not punish but help people who consume drugs. Of course we should fight the realization of drugs,” he said.

The Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) call on the Parliament to urgently adopt already initiated draft drug policy, which would not send people to jail for personal consumption or storage of drugs.