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Ombudsman Calls Parliamentary Commission on High-Profile Mukhtarli Case

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, May 1
The Georgian Public Defender Nino Lomjaria has recommended the founding of a fact-finding parliamentary commission over Azerbaijani investigative journalist Afghan Mukhtarli, who disappeared from Tbilisi in unclear circumstances in May, 2017 and re-emerged in Baku in detention the next day.

Lomjaria says that Mukhtarli's case is “a matter of reputation” and politicians should be more involved in the issue.

"This case is a high-profile case and it is kind of a matter of reputation for the country. Due to the fact that almost a year has passed and we still have no answer to the question on how Mukhtarli disappeared and crossed the Georgian-Azerbaijani border, we recommend the Georgian parliament to set up a fact-finding commission”, she said.

“This is not an individual criminal case. This is a matter of our country's reputation and I think that Georgian politicians should show particular attention to the case,” Lomjaria said.

Mukhtarli was sentenced to six years in prison by the Balakan district court in Azerbaijan on January 12, 2018.

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.

Mukhtarli’s wife, Leyla Mustafayeva, who is also an investigative journalist, stated that his husband’s verdict was part of a “joint deal” between the Georgian and Azerbaijani leaderships.

The US President Donald Trump’s administration, the EU, OSCE and other foreign organizations have demanded the release of the journalist.

Georgian officials and the country’s Interior Ministry have dismissed allegations about Mukhtarli.

The Interior Ministry of Georgia had stated they were investigating how Mukhtarly appeared in Baku from Tbilisi. However, results of the investigation remain unknown.

The parliamentary opposition in the parliament of Georgia had also urged for the creation of such commission. However, the Georgian Dream majority did not accept the initiative and stated that everyone should wait for the completion of the official investigation into the case.