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Police arrest 10 for criminal group membership

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, July 8
Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) arrested 10 members of the criminal underworld, while one individual has been charged in prison.

The crime, committed by the detainees, is punishable by 7 - 10 years of imprisonment.

The information was released by Mamuka Chelidze, acting Director of Central Criminal Department of the Interior Ministry. According to him, the detention operation has been held throughout the country, including in Batumi, Mestia, Marneuli, Dmanisi, Rustavi and Tbilisi.

“One of the detainees was arrested on the “Red Bridge” when he was trying to leave the country,” he added.

Chelidze noted the investigation established that the defendants were actively involved in criminal activities and used to spread special rules of the so-called thieves’ world.

“Four of the detainees openly expressed their support to the criminal underworld. They used to threaten citizens and to extort money from them,” he said.

Acting Director of Central Criminal Department also said one member of the criminal underworld, nicknamed Leri, who was imprisoned, collected so-called “obshyak”, payments to a criminal group’s common treasury, taken from the Russian word), and sent the collected money to the allies of a well-known so-called thief-in-law Mindia Lavasoghli in Turkey.

Five detainees were also engaged in the process of collection of “obshyak.” The “obshyak” money has been seized as evidence,” the Interior Ministry said.

In April last year, the Parliament of Georgia adopted proposed amendments by the MIA on tightening of punishment for criminal organized group membership.

According to the changes, any person who appears to be a member of a criminal group or a “thief- in- law,” to settle any dispute or make any decisions, or supports the criminal world, will be punished according to the law.

Anyone who organizes the meeting of criminals or so-called “thieves-in-laws” or takes part in such meetings will be punished too.

Furthermore, if under the current criminal code, being a “thief-in-law” is punished by 7-10 years imprisonment, according to the amendments, this punishment will be increased to 10-15 years in prison.

As for membership of an organized criminal group, the punishment will be a term of seven to ten years instead of the previous 5-8 years.