Georgian government faces outcry over detained protester
The Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) has claimed that the authorities failed to provide the detained foreign agent law protester Lazare Grigoriadis with a lawyer and that he was coerced into incriminating himself, reports OC Media. Grigoriadis, detained less than three weeks after the protests succeeded, faces up to 11 years in prison if found guilty of throwing two Molotov cocktails at the police and setting a police car on fire.
On April 3, his lawyer, Lika Bitadze, claimed Grigoriadis was initially deprived of his right to an attorney. Later, Grigoriadis was misled by the investigators, who suggested he would be able to use his mobile phone to contact a lawyer. However, the investigators allegedly took away Grigoriadis’ phone after he had unlocked it.
On April 4, GYLA cited Bitadze as claiming her client was pressured into confessing after investigators threatened his friend. “He says that if I didn’t give a testimony, and of course, it had to be an admission of guilt, they would have detained my friend Giorgi Jariashvili’”, Bitadze claimed. “We believe that the developments in relation to Lazare Grigoriadis will significantly limit his right to a fair trial,” reads the GYLA statement.
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili has commented on the case of Grigoriadis, saying the protesters’ goal was to achieve chaos in the country. “Of course, what happened is unacceptable. All those accused of assaulting the police must be punished. In general, I would like to recall that in the United States of America, four people died during the storming of the Capitol [in 2021]. It turns out that we also have the norm of letting these anarchists into the parliament building and the norm to throw Molotov cocktails at the police, but the police must not act, and we must not punish anyone … Of course, this is not how it will be,” the prime minister said.
The chairman of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Irakli Kobakhidze, said of the detainee that “he had all his priorities mixed up” and “this is a man who has gone astray.” According to Kobakhidze, Grigoriadis is associated with the “Bolshevik troika” – Elene Khoshtaria, Zurab Japaridze and Giorgi Vashadze. Khoshtaria denies the claims spread by the chairman of the Georgian Dream.
“I personally do not know the arrested person, and he is not a member of Droa [the opposition party led by Khoshtaria], but we will protect him in every possible way. We are looking for contacts with the family and will be there according to their wishes. One of the main topics of the visit to Brussels was the protection of the demonstrators. We will protect them both outside and inside the country!” Khoshtaria wrote on Facebook.
Svaneti, Georgia. Photo: Shutterstock.com