The Tbilisi City Court found Giorgi (Goga) Oniani, a former police official and now defense attorney, guilty on multiple charges and sentenced him to four years and six months in jail.
Oniani, who is a member of the United National Movement’s political council, has been charged with exceeding powers when he served as the deputy chief of Tbilisi’s Gldani-Nadzaladevi police department in late 2011, as well as with fabricating evidence, political persecution and illegal detention.
The Prosecutor’s Office explained today that in October 2011, Oniani illegally detained two persons involved in the then opposition Georgian Dream’s advertising campaign and later fabricated evidence against them, which, according to the prosecution, aimed at interfering with Georgian Dream’s political activities, as well as intimidating persons with dissenting political views.
The court sentenced Oniani to six years in prison, but eventually, pursuant to the Law on Amnesty adopted by the Georgian Dream in 2012, his prison term was reduced to four years and six months.
Oniani’s defenser lawyer, Malkhaz Velijanashvili, slammed the court ruling as “absolutely illegal,” and added that the decision would be challenged in the court of appeals.
“Goga Oniani was detained because he is a member of the United National Movement. If Goga Oniani had been a member of the quasi-opposition, if he had moved to the European Georgia, he would not have been imprisoned today,” said MP Nika Melia of the United National Movement.
The European Georgia also condemned Oniani’s imprisonment as “political reprisal” and “revenge.” “We have one more political prisoner… the European Georgia will do its best to secure Oniani’s release. For this to happen, we will work with international partners in order to increase their pressure,” MP Otar Kakhidze said at a special news briefing on November 7.
Senior Georgian Dream’s lawmaker Eka Beselia, who chairs the Parliament’s committee for legal issues, also commented on Oniani’s imprisonment, saying the claims on the political motivations behind the arrest were not “convincing.”
Goga Oniani was arrested in 2014, but the court ordered to release him on GEL 20,000 bail.