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Public Defender on Arrested Photographers' Case
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 12 Jul.'11 / 02:53

Georgian Public Defender, Giorgi Tugushi, stopped short of calling law enforcement agencies to fully declassify case against arrested photojournalists and said that investigators should decide about classification of separate evidence rather than imposing blanket restriction on the entire case.

In a statement released on July 11, the Public Defender's Office (PDO) said that its representatives met with three photojournalists - Irakli Gedenidze, Zurab Kurtsikidze and Giorgi Abdaladze - who are in pre-trial detention pending investigation; preliminary court hearing is scheduled for September 1.

PDO said that neither of them had complained about the prison administration.

"Abdaladze and Kurtsikidze are demanding declassifying cases against them; in connection with this demand Abdaladze continues hunger strike," PDO said.

It said that the law did not authorize PDO to look into the investigation files before final decision of court into the case was not announced.

"Therefore it is impossible for us to assess expediency and legality of a decision to classify the case as secret," the Public Defender's Office said.

"At the same time, because of high public interest towards the investigation of this case and taking into consideration the fact that accused are photojournalists, it is important to separate those materials from the case, which do not contain state secret. It is noteworthy, that part of the case materials has been publicized by the investigating agency itself; therefore, if the defense deems it important to make public any evidence into the case, it is necessary that an agency investigating the case to precisely assess a concrete evidence and decide its classification issue," PDO said.

Meanwhile, a group of journalists will hold yet another protest rally on July 12 - this time outside the Parliament, to again demand to make the case materials publicly available. The group of journalists rallied with the same demand outside the Interior Ministry building in Tbilisi outskirts on July 11.

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