Public Defender’s Statement on Investigation of Actions of Organizers of July 5-6 events
As of July 12, 2021, no criminal proceedings have been launched against any person by the Ministry of Internal Affairs or the Prosecutor General's Office of Georgia for organizing violent, hate crimes that took place on July 5 and 6 in Tbilisi. Moreover, except for the reports about the arrests of certain individuals for violence, the public still does not have full information on whether the Ministry of Internal Affairs sees signs of organized group violence in the recent developments.
The statements issued by the Ministry of Internal Affairs regarding the events of July 5-6 show that the investigation is ongoing only into illegal interference with the journalist's professional activities, persecution of people with the use of violence and threats of violence, group violence and intentional damage to other people's property. However, nothing is said about whether the investigative agencies are investigating the possible organization of these violent events.
The events of July 5-6 were preceded by the public calls for violence by specific individuals and the mobilization of certain groups in society for this purpose. Numerous calls for violence were made on July 5-6 as well, including by the clergy.
Although group violence could be foreseen, the Ministry of Internal Affairs did not take effective preventive measures to prevent violence, neither has it responded fully or adequately to the criminal facts so far.
On July 5-6, 2021, we saw how violent groups moved in a coordinated manner, we saw that they were informed about various locations of individuals and we heard various statements by organizers that they could control the violent groups (stop or move them in a certain direction).
The scale of the violent events, the intensity and severity of the actions, the nature of the group violence, the calls of specific individuals, the number of affected citizens and offenders are clearly possible signs of organized group violence. Accordingly, the investigation, along with other articles, should be continued under the first part of Article 225 of the Criminal Code, which pertains to the organization or leadership of a group action that involves violence, raid, damage or destruction of property, etc.
We call on the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor's Office to identify the main persons responsible for the actions of the alleged violent groups as soon as possible, as a matter of priority, and to launch criminal proceedings against them, as well as to proactively inform the public about the progress of the investigation.
The Public Defender also calls on the Ministry of Internal Affairs to conduct an effective investigation into the death of TV Pirveli cameraman Alexandre Lashkarava, who was one of the victims of the July 5-6 violent attacks, and to establish a causal link between his bodily injuries and the fatal result.
The Public Defender’s Office will continue to monitor the investigation into the events of 5 and 6 July, further analyze the actions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and present the results of the assessment to the public.