Director General of the Tbilisi-based private broadcaster Rustavi 2, Nika Gvaramia was physically assaulted on January 7, while dining in a restaurant in Tbilisi with a group of friends.
According to Gvaramia, “the lights went out [in the restaurant] and we were readying to depart, when [someone] assaulted us physically." Gvaramia said he was distraught, having just come back from his father`s funeral and could not identify the assailants. "I did not manage to react and did not understand what was happening…I came about [after being hit] to find myself on the ground.”
In an emotional Facebook post recounting the incident, Gvaramia said he would "accept no apology" for the act and vowed "zero tolerance [to perpetrators] saying "I will make them pay for this...the earth will burn under their feet."
Rati Gachechiladze, son of the former opposition figure Levan Gachechiladze, admitted the assault in his late-night Facebook post on January 7. He said he and his lawyer would see the prosecutors the following day.
“This was my reaction to the physical and moral abuse that my family and I have suffered in the last years from Gvaramia and not only from him,” he wrote. Levan Gachechiladze was United Opposition’s candidate in 2008 early presidential elections and was defeated by incumbent Mikheil Saakashvili. Gvaramia served as the Minister of Justice/Prosecutor General in January-October 2008.
Reacting to the incident, Levan Gachechiladze told Rustavi 2: "why should he [Rati Gachechiladze] be arrested, just for hitting someone?! It is difficult to contol one`s emotions after all those years [of suffering] that me and my family had to endure. Nika Gvaramia was one of the sources of that evil and he remains so until now. This was not a premeditated settling of scores, that would require planning. It was just a chance encounter and [Rati Gachechiladze] just slapped him [Gvaramia] around a bit. This is not a settling of scores. It is Gvaramia who should apologize to the Georgian people."
Nika Gvaramia, who suffered closed head trauma, concussion and soft tissue injuries as a result of the incident, told the press after the medical check-up on January 8 that he would continue treatment at home.
Interior Ministry said in a statement on January 8 that Rati Gachechiladze was detained and investigation was launched under Part I of Article 126 in the Criminal Code of Georgia which deals with alleged cases of violence and is punishable by restriction of freedom up to two years or by prison sentence up to three years.
Gvaramia challenged the use of Article 126 as “inadequate” and argued the attack was committed in group, which would warrant harsher form of penalties under the criminal code. “If the crime had no motive, then it should be treated as group hooliganism. If the motive was my political and public activities, then it is a hate crime and persecution,” Gvaramia noted.