A legal advocacy and human rights group, Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), condemned arrest of three activists from pro-opposition youth group on November 23 as “a rough violation” of freedom of assembly.
Police arrested Dachi Tsaguri, Jaba Jishkariani and Irakli Kordzaia when these three men were standing outside the Parliament protesting against the authorities’ policies in presence of several journalists.
Shortly after they arrived outside the Parliament, chief of Tbilisi patrol police, accompanied by several other policemen, approached the activists telling them that they were arrested for violation of law on rallies.
Late on November 23 the Tbilisi City Court found the three men guilty of violation of rules of holding the rally and for resisting the police orders and fined each of them with GEL 500 based on article 173 and first paragraph of article 174 of administrative offenses’ code.
Video footage from Maestro TV and iTV.ge, whose reporters were present there at the time of arrest, clearly shows that the three activists obeyed the police orders and followed them into the police cars without any resistance.
At the time of arrest policemen told the three activists that they were arrested because of violation of law on rallies, which, among other things, bans holding of rallies in a 20-meter radius from the Parliament building.
“But the police themselves wrote down in the arrest protocol that we were standing 30 meters away from the Parliament building at the time of our arrest; but the judge simply ignored it,” Dachi Tsaguria said on November 25.
Chief of Tbilisi patrol police, Giorgi Gegechkori, told the three activists at the time of their arrest that they were standing within a 50-meter radius from the Parliament building, which, he said, was a violation of the law on rallies. The law, however, says rallies are banned within 20-meter radius.
GYLA said in a statement on November 24: “Unfortunately, the Tbilisi City Court, like in other similar cases, declined to accept the defense lawyers’ arguments and took the biased decision without objectively analyzing circumstances.”
The Tbilisi City Court did not respond to a request for comment from Civil.Ge.