Public Defender's Statement on Violence against Lawyer
The Public Defender calls on the Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the fact of violence committed against Legal Service lawyer Giorgi Mdinaradze, ensure correct categorization of the crime and identify perpetrators. Criminal prosecution should be launched in the shortest possible time, while procedures should be carried out for preventing pressure, coercion, destruction of evidence, and/or re-offending by alleged perpetrators.
According to the reports, lawyer Giorgi Mdinaradze was beaten in Vake-Saburtalo police station No 5 in the morning of 8 November. Currently the lawyer is being treated at the Elizabeth Blackwell hospital. Authorized representatives of the Public Defender personally visited him at the hospital and saw his injuries: bruises in the right areas of his eye and neck, scratches on the left side of his jaw. As the lawyer alleges, he arrived at the police station at about 2:15 on November 8 to defend the rights of a juvenile detainee. Before the questioning, he told the investigator that the detainee wanted to use the right to silence. Police officers took the juvenile to another room to talk with him. The conversation was attended by the detainee’s father as well. After this, police officers showed aggression against the lawyer. He was taken to the police chief’s room, where about five police officers, including the police chief, who was identified by the lawyer, verbally and physically abused him. After this, a protocol on administrative detention was drawn up and the lawyer was released under a written agreement.
As far as the representatives of the Public Defender have been informed, the Ministry of Internal Affairs launched a probe into the case, though according to Interpressnews news agency, the fact is being investigated by the Prosecutor's Office. It remains unclear exactly which agency began and continues the investigation.
The Public Defender emphasizes once again, as he has done it with regard to other similar facts, that it is contrary to the laws of Georgia when the offense allegedly committed by police officers is investigated by the same police agency. Investigation should be immediately launched and all relevant primary investigative procedures should be conducted by the Prosecutor's Office.
Such a blatant obstruction of lawyer’s professional activity is concerning. Similar facts endanger protection of rights of individuals and the rule of law, which are the major values for a democratic state. Accordingly, how the state responds to similar facts is a kind of test about the country’s democratic order, protection of human rights and legitimate framework of police powers.