News
DRI: The court verdict proves the existence of organizers of the July 5 violence
19.05.2022
The conviction of defendants by the Criminal Cases Panel of Tbilisi City Court in the episode of Lekso Lashkarava and Miranda Baghaturia relating to the violent events of July 5-6, 2021 once again proves that the violent crackdown of July 5 was organized.

Tbilisi City Court Judge Nino Elieshvili, unlike the judges hearing the July 5 violent events, found all six defendants guilty of participating in organized gang crime.[1]

The legal assessment in the verdict of April 4, 2022 emphasizes that "Gang violence was organized against the participants of the Tbilisi Pride rally on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, [...] homophobic and transphobic calls were made to persecute and abuse demonstrators and to obstruct the activities of journalists, which was carried out by the accused and their other accomplices."[2]

The court focused on the video of the online platform Publika, which clearly shows the events that took place before July 5, 2021, the actions and opinions expressed by various individuals regarding the events and measures planned for July 5 [...]. The events unfolded on July 5 just as it was described in the video."[3]

According to the guilty verdict, it can be clearly heard in the video recording examined at the trial and it is also reflected in the Publika video that several hundred people intended to go to the Shame office because there were representatives of the LGBT community and their defenders.

The mentioned video proves that the organization of the violent events of July 5 started a few weeks earlier. Members of the violent, homophobic, far-right organization Alt-Info called on viewers to commit crimes and incited them to violence through their own TV channel. The video focuses on the calls of Alt-Info leader Zura Makharadze, who was one of the main organizers of the violent events.

The court, although it was possible to identify the persons shown in the video on the basis of the testimonies of victims and witnesses as well as other evidence, only indicated the existence of organizers. According to the video, Shota Martinenko, Koka Morgoshia, presenters of Alt-Analytica, clergymen and others were also involved in the organization of the events together with Zurab Makharadze.

The Democracy Research Institute sent a question to the Prosecutor General's Office of Georgia in order to find out whether an investigation was ongoing to bring the organizers of the July 5-6 violence to justice.[4] The reply letter received from the Prosecutor's Office indicates[5] that in connection with the violence that took place on Rustaveli Avenue and the surrounding area on July 5, 2021, the Prosecutor's Office of Georgia is conducting an investigation into the organization of and participation in gang crime (Article 225 (1) (2) of the Criminal Code of Georgia), public call for violence (Article 2391 (1)), persecution and unlawful interference with the professional activities of journalists (Articles 156 and 154).

It is alarming that even ten months after the violent events of July 5, the Georgian Prosecutor's Office has not launched criminal proceedings against the organizers of the violence, despite the fact that the guilt of the organizers was confirmed by the guilty verdict of the court as well.
 
We call on the Prosecutor's Office of Georgia to immediately launch criminal proceedings against the organizers of the July 5 violent events.



[1] For details see the DRI statement of April 6, 2022, available at: https://www.democracyresearch.org/geo/944/
[2] Judgment of the Criminal Cases Panel of Tbilisi City Court of April 4, 2022, p. 38
[3] Judgment of the Criminal Cases Panel of Tbilisi City Court of April 4, 2022, p. 39
[4] Letter No. 20220704-321 of 7 April 2022 to DRI
[5] Letter No. 13/29616 of the General Prosecutor's Office of Georgia of May 16, 2022.
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