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Soldiers Go AWOL from Base Near Tbilisi
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 1 Jun.'07 / 08:30

Up to 20 soldiers from the Kojori military base, near Tbilisi, went AWOL on the evening of May 31, the Ministry of Defense has confirmed.

Officials said most of them had returned by the end of the day.

“The incident is now over… The Military Police is investigating the case and everything will be clarified. Everybody involved will be strictly punished,” Col. Zaza Gogava, Chief of Joint Staff of the Armed Forces, told reporters late on May 31.

He declined to specify why the soldiers had gone AWOL.

“There was no reason for them to do this… All of them are conscripts, whose term of service was due to end in several days. I guess they decided to leave the base several days early,” Col. Gogava said.

Kojori is home to the elite special forces of the Ministry of Defense. Col. Gogava, however, said that they were not involved in the incident.

“They are part of a [base] guard unit; they are all conscripts,” he added.

A similar incident occurred in the Kojori military base in May 2006, when up to 70 soldiers went AWOL. Public Defender Sozar Subari said at the time that the soldiers were protesting against a decision to punish several servicemen for drinking alcohol on the base.

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