Court Orders Pre-trial Detention of Six over Election Day Violence at Marneuli

RUSTAVI, Georgia – Rustavi City Court ordered the pre-trial detention of six young men from Marneuli yesterday, charged in connection with the violent incident on parliamentary elections day in village Kizilajlo, Marneuli Municipality.

The lawyers of the detained individuals are going to appeal the decision, saying the charged men are not guilty.

The men were arrested on October 13 in different villages throughout Marneuli.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) stated the detained people disrupted voting at N48 polling station in Kizilajlo during the October 8 parliamentary elections, were distinguished for their extremely aggressive behavior and tried to break into the polling station and steal the ballot box.

According to the Ministry, the arrested men started a fight and threw stones in the direction of the police officers mobilized to preserve public order.

“As a result of the confrontation, several policemen, including the deputy director of Kvemo Kartli police department, were injured,” the MIA statement reads.

The investigation was launched under Article 162 pertaining to interference with the work of the Election Commission or violence/threat of violence in the polling station, Election Commission or adjacent territory.

Family members of the arrested men gathered at Marneuli police station to protest the fact, claiming the detained men were innocent.

Moreover, the relatives accused Special Forces riot police officers of exceeding their powers during the arrest operation, saying they violently broke into the houses of suspects, broke furniture and physically abused the detainees and their family members.

The opposition United National Movement (UNM) majoritarian candidate in Marneuli, Akhmet Imamkuliyev, claims the arrested men were UNM supporters and their arrest has political background.

“These boys have nothing to do with the October 8 incident. This is a political persecution,” Imamkuliyev claimed.

Another UNM member, Irma Nadirashvili, says the police treated their supporters as if they were terrorists. “They were arrested because they are our supporters,” she stated.

The ruling party Georgian Dream (GD) refuted all allegations, saying the arrest was legal as the detainees had raided the polling station on October 8.

Amiran Giorgadze, Head of GD’s Marneuli Office, says that the incident in Marneuli was staged by Akhmet Imamkuliyev.

“The arrested men were following Imamkuliyev’s instructions on elections day when they raided N48 polling station. The UNM is responsible for this,” said Giorgadze.

Marneuli is a city with a predominantly Azeri Shi’a Muslim community, located 55 kilometers to the south of the capital Tbilisi. It has been considered a battleground district by Georgia’s two main parties – the ruling Georgian Dream coalition and the opposition United National Movement of former President Mikheil Saakashvili.

The next hearing over the case at Rustavi City Court is scheduled for December 6. The relatives of the detainees and UNM members announced that rallies would be held until the arrested men are released.


By Thea Morrison

Photo: Rustavi City Court ordered pre-trial detention of 6 Marneuli residents




15 October 2016 14:14