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Parliament Disapproves Commission on Mukhtarli’s case

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, February 26
(KUTAISI)--The Parliament of Georgia has refused to support the initiative on setting up a fact-finding commission for the case of Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli, who went missing in Tbilisi on May 29, last year, and re-emerged in a detention facility in Baku the next day.

Eighteen lawmakers voted for the draft resolution, while 22 members went against it.

The initiative belonged to the parliamentary minority based on the government’s failure to investigate how Mukhtarli disappeared from Tbilisi.

Elene Khoshtaria from the European Georgia opposition party stated that the investigation of the high-profile case was a “matter of dignity” for Georgia.

“Nine months have passed since the Georgian law enforcers launched the investigation to clear out how Mukhtarli appeared in Baku. However, nothing has been reported about the outcomes yet. A special parliamentary commission has to be created and we, lawmakers, must take the responsibility to answer the questions at issue,” Khoshtaria said before voting in parliament.

The opposition says they waited for the result as the government is not interested in investigating the case.

For its part the government and the majority members refuse the Georgian Dream’s involvement in the Mukhtarli’s case and appeal to interested sides to wait for the conclusion of the investigation.

Mukhtarli has already been sentenced to six years in prison by the Balakan district court in Azerbaijan on January 12.

The court found him guilty of illegal crossing of border, smuggling in money and resisting the border guards.

Mukhtarli claims he was abducted from Tbilisi for his investigations about top figures of Azerbaijan, their businesses in Georgia and connections with the Georgian government.

In his most recent interview he stated that without the involvement of the Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, or former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, he would not have been abducted.

Georgian law enforcers are still investigating how Mukhtarlii appeared from Tbilisi in Baku, refusing any involvement in his “abduction.”

Mukhtarli, with his wife and a young daughter had lived in Georgia since 2015, as he saw threats from the Azerbaijani leadership.

The Georgian government refused to grant them the residency permit they had been asking for.

After Mukhtarli’s disappearance and the stir over the issue, Margvelashvili offered Mustafayeva Georgian citizenship, which she refused, saying the “support was belated.”

Now Mustafayeva lives in one of the European countries with her daughter.

Many of the influential foreign organizations, as well as the US government, have addressed Azerbaijani leadership to release Mukhtarli.