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Two Policemen Detained for Physically Assaulting Deaf Minor

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Wednesday, January 26, 2022
A young man was physically assaulted by a police officer at the Isani metro station in Tbilisi last Sunday. The leaked footage, taken by a citizen, shows law enforcement following the boy up the escalator. The accompanying person explains that the 17-year old has a disability, does not understand or can answer their questions. Despite this, as it can be seen from the footage, the citizen was allegedly taken to the bailiff's room, during which one of the policemen physically assaulted the young man.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs has stated the video footage taken in the Tbilisi metro, stating that the MIA condemns any kind of violence, any violent action by a police officer that may violate human rights is categorically unacceptable to the agency.

The MIA has arrested 2 police officers involved in a physical assault on the person with disabilities, charging them for the violent attack. Giorgi Gamezardashvili, Deputy Head of the State Inspector's Office, said two officers had been arrested following the prompt investigation announced by the ministry late on Monday after the footage aired on television channels and was posted on social media.

“On January 24, 2022, based on the information spread through media, the State Inspector's Office immediately launched an investigation. Witnesses were questioned, including the victim, who was questioned in the presence of a psychologist,” Gamezardashvili said.

The investigators said the disabled minor and his brother had been approached by the police in the Isani subway station on Sunday evening, with the 17-year-old taken to the police staff room at the station, where one of the officers repeatedly punched the minor in the head. The assault continued despite the juvenile indicating he was disabled and could not understand the officer addressing him throughout the arrest and the subsequent attack. It was noted that the deaf adolescent has received injuries to his head and face as a result of the assault.

The assaulting officer has been charged with ‘degrading or inhuman treatment by an official against a minor, through abuse of official authority, with his colleague facing the charge of abuse of official authority after failing to report the assault. The crime, under Article 144.3 (2a, 2b, 2g) of the Criminal Code is punishable by a prison term of 5 to 10 years, and possibly with deprivation of the right to hold any office or carry out activities for up to 5 years and with restriction of the rights to carry weapons.

The offense, under Article 332 (1) of the Criminal Code is punishable by a fine, house arrest for 6 months to 2 years, or by imprisonment for up to 3 years, with deprivation of the right to hold office or to carry out activities for up to 3 years.

Vice President of the Deaf Union Maia Metonidze states that the juvenile beaten by a policeman in the metro is being examined.

Metonidze notes that a sign language translator is involved in the case.

“This is a cause of great outrage in our community with a very great emotional background. We try to provide as much information as possible to these people. As you know, the environment is not fully adapted, ie it is difficult for all members of society to obtain information. In terms of awareness-raising, training has been conducted and important issues have been resolved, but there is a constant need for awareness-raising, as you know that the responsible persons in the public institutions and various institutions are changing accordingly.

A protest action ‘No To the Militia’ took place yesterday in Ortichala, in front of the building of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, organized by the members of the party ‘Droa’ and the representatives of the youth organization ‘Lelo’. They protesting against the violence in the metro station. According to them, the incident is not a single case and indicates a problem in the system.

The incident also spurred a protest rally outside the ruling Georgian Dream party headquarters and the MIA building on January 24.

The local watchdog, Social Justice Center, stated that the attack ‘cannot be an isolated incident,’ adding that such practices demonstrate the closed system and the lacking accountability of the Interior Ministry. According to them, the political elite has yet to carry out substantial reforms aimed at preventing police brutality.