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Lawyer of the Human Rights Center Attended Interrogation of the Resonansi’s Journalist


Tamta Beliashvili

Mtskheta district MIA department started investigation on the oppression fact against Mari Otarashvili, journalist of the newspaper Resonansi and Information Center of Mtskheta-Mtianeti. Head of Legal Aid Center at the Human Rights Center Nino Andriashvili attended the interrogation process. The case was launched under Article 151 of the Criminal Code of Georgia (intimidation).

Reportedly, on March 23, 2012 Mari Otarashvili applied to the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia Murtaz Zodelava and requested to start investigation against Misha Berianidze, head of Ltd Interplast workshop. The owners of the Ltd Interplast are Mtskheta-Mtianeti regional governor Tsezar Chocheli and his brother Iago Chocheli. On March 20, head of the workshop Misha Berianidze called Mari Otarashvili on the phone and threatened her. He had already intimidated the journalists before.

“On March 16, 2012 [my] article “Pre-Election Turmoil in Akhalgori” was published in the newspaper Resonansi. The so-called background of the article reads: “Last year, Tskhinvali de-facto vice-mayor of Tskhinvali Alan Kotaev won de-facto presidential elections in Akhalgori district. Local inhabitants and de-facto officials allege Misha Berianidze, an ally of Mtskheta-Mtianeti Regional Governor Tsezar Chocheli, agitated in favor of Kotaev in the district. Berianidze categorically denied the information. On March 20, Msha Berianidze called me and shouted: “Explain to me, why you are writing about me! Tell me who gives you information! Do you know me? What do you want? Who tells you those things … him. Explain me what you want. Shall I see you somewhere and beat?! … you,” of course I got scared and cut off the line. Then I did not reply his phone calls. Later, Misha Berianidze called me from other phone number and continued the same…”Why did you cut off the line?! Tsezara… Am I his ally? Tell me what you want! Who orders you to write about me?! How can I refrain from cursing you?! … Resonansi, I will …. you in Akhalgori and in Tserovani. You must remember, I will finish you,” Mari Otarashvili wrote in her complaint.

Misha Berianidze continued intimidation of the journalist during his conversation with the Information Center of Mtskheta-Mtianeti. “No, no and no. Man, please get me properly. First she wrote something bad about me in the past and now she did the same. Why are you creating problems for me? What do you want? I am internally displaced person and I do not care about politics at all. Your policy made me displaced… I will …. them. They made me fled from there [Akhalgori], now I live in Tserovani [IDP settlement] and you bother me here too. Leave me alone. Shall I do anything wrong to anybody to make you leave me alone? How can you dare to write about me? Did you ask me anything? Shall I arrive there and make your life terrible? Shall I beat her to make her stop bothering me?” Berianidze said.

Detective-investigator at the Mtskheta district MIA department Giorgi Shakhulishvili is investigating the criminal case. They have already interrogated Misha Berianidze who has denied accusation. Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association [GYLA] provides Mari Otarashvili with legal aid. Head of Legal Aid Center at the Human Rights Center Nino Andriashvili represents the journalist in other similar case.

It was not first fact of intimidation and oppression on the journalist. Last year, Akhalgori district legitimate governor Zurab Pitskhelauri threatened journalist Mari Otarashvili with publishing discreditable photos about her unless she stopped writing about him. The district governor was discontent about journalist’s activities. Zurab Pitskhelauri was annoyed with Mari Otarashvili’s reporting about current unpleasant situation in Akhalgori. In fact, the district governor interfered in the professional activities of the journalist by blackmail.

On August 1, 2011 the Human Rights Center gave press-conference on the fact. The criminal case was launched under Article 154 of the Criminal Code of Georgia. Nevertheless, as Nino Andriashvili stated, the investigation has been underway for almost a year but without any progress. The lawyer has decided to appeal to the European Court because the national court does not punish the district governor regardless gross crime which he had committed.

Several days ago, Mari Otarashvili was called from the Mtskheta District MIA Department and requested to take part in the investigation activities. Nino Andriashvili said she had called the prosecutor’s office to find out the situation about Zurab Pitskhelauri’s criminal liability. Since, Mtskheta district prosecutor’s office is investigation Pitskhelauri’s case [where Nino Andriashvili acts as a lawyer], Mari Otarashvili supposed she was summoned regarding this particular case and called her lawyer Nino Andriashvili to notify her that she was summoned to the prosecutor’s office and asked her to attend interrogation. Having arrived in Mtskheta, they found out that the journalist was to be interrogated about Misha Berianidze’s case where the GYLA’s lawyer represents the journalist. Otarashvili said this case had particular significance for her and could not make testimony without lawyer. Nino Andriashvili also decided that she should not have left the client without attention and attended the interrogation.

In future, Mari Otarashvili will be represented by the GYLA in this particular case. The Human Rights Center hopes the investigation will soon finish and Mtskheta-Mtianeti regional MIA department will punish Berianidze for intimidation of the journalist in accordance to the law.

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