The Two Men Accused of Killing Vitali Safarov Remain in Custody

Human rights defender Vitaly Safarov was stabbed to death on September 30, 2018, in Tbilisi while he was leaving the Warszawa bar. The two suspects are accused of intentional murder and a hate-motivated crime.

Vitaly Safarov was a Georgian with Jewish and Yazidi roots. He worked as a trainer in a multicultural camp for children in Georgia and on issues of ethnic minorities integration at the Center for Participation and Development (CPD). He spoke Russian and was in the company of foreigners when the fight began with the aggressors, which ultimately led to his death.

The Tbilisi-based Human Rights Center (HRIDC) and the CPD said the act could have been based on “xenophobic grounds”. The two men are said to be part of a neo-Nazi organization. One of the suspects is charged with premeditated murder; the other with failing to report a crime. Advocates of both defendants claimed their clients were not members of any neo-Nazi groups.

On the October 31, the Prosecutor’s Office added to the intentional murder aggravating circumstances due to racial, religious, national or ethnic intolerance, which is punishable with 13–17 years imprisonment.

The defense requested the release of their clients but both were turned down by the judge. The trial will begin on April 24.

According to a January report by the Human Rights Department at the Interior Ministry, hate-based motivations were identified in 95 criminal cases in 2018. Besides, the presence of neo-Nazi groups in Tbilisi is a very serious issue that should be resolutely addressed.



By Gabrielle Colchen

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Related article: Neo-nazis in Tbilisi

18 April 2019 13:37