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Man Who Assaulted Journalist Sentenced to 10 years Imprisonment

Man Who Assaulted Journalist Sentenced to 10 years Imprisonment

9 months have already passed since the assault against Saba Tsitsikashvili - Shida Kartli Regional reporter for the Human Rights Information and Documentation Centre (HRIDC). Only one man out of the three who took part in the attack has been arrested so far. He turned out to be Gabro Pavliashvili - a relative of a member of Kareli’s (the presidential representative in Shida Kartli) Security Service. The district court has already sentenced him.

The assault happened on September 5th 2005, at 7.20 pm in Gori Railway Station. Three strangers attacked the journalist. This assault resulted in various kinds of injuries to the victim’s body. It was necessary to operate on the injuries to his head and he experienced concussion of the brain. The injuries were apparent on his body, even on the feet. The doctors immediately ascertained that the journalist had been beaten with blunt objects.

It is obvious that the assailants knew Saba Tsitsikashvili’s itinerary beforehand. The journalist was returning to the village via the Tbilisi-Borjomi train which was leaving Gori Station at 7.30pm.

On September 3rd 2005, a stranger assaulted Saba Tsitsikashvili - running after him in ‘Samepo Kucha’ trying to pay off by throwing him stones taken from the pavement. Samepo Kucha connects the central part of Gori to the railway station. The assailant was screaming: are you not the man writing those terrible things? The journalist believed that it was a deliberate and thought out act of intimidation.

The next night (September 4th), in a place where Saba Tsistikashvili was supposed to be walking, two unknown people hit 21 year-old Lekso Valiauri, who lives on the site of the Railway Station. Lekso Valiauri was beaten in the same way that Saba Tsitsikashvili was beaten the following day – the attackers struck from behind, hitting Lekso with blunt objects silently. On September 5 three men made an ambush on the same place.

It was clear that Lekso Valiauri was their mistake and they hit him instead of Saba Tsitsikashvili. The proof of this statement is that the assailants ran immediately when Lekso, while being beated, started screaming: do not hit me; I am the inhabitant of Sadguri.

Saba Tsitsikashvili was still awaited on the underway. Coming out of the building of editorial building Saba Tsitsikashvili noticed a car observing him. Getting closer to the station, Saba Tsitsikahvili did not use the underway for avoiding feasible danger and decided to reach the station platform through the bridge. But the assailants were waiting for him exactly near the stairs of the bridge. According to the journalist they were coming from the side of underway.

After the incident, investigation was launched. The case was under the private control of the Regional Prosecutors Office. One of the versions included the naming of the fact as the assault being supervised by the Governor.

Only after 3 months, in November 2005, it turned out that the attorney and the members of Personal Security Service took significant part in this assault. It must be mentioned that Kakha Khikhalishvili was recognized out of the other suspects as a suspected participant in the assault on the journalist. Earlier he had been suspected in the assault carried out on businessman Givi Jamelashvili’s son and burglary of their car as well. He is also the brother-in-law of Gabro Pavliashvili – the Head for security of the attorney Mikheil Kareli. Meanwhile the businessman Givi Jamerashvili confronted Mikheli Kareli who publicized his opinion about Kareli that he was bereaving the apple factory from Jamerishvili in Tkviavi. Jamerishvili was assaulted and hit severely once in Tkviavi by Kareli’s driver and then some one attempted to rob him near his house. In the time robbery the son of the businessman recognised a well-known Kakha Khikhashvili, resident of Gori. He immediately called the Patrol police and the robber was detained. Khikhalishvili later was recognised by Saba Tsitsikashvili as well. As the staff of police report the suspect was screaming while arresting Khikhalishvili: “How do you dare touch me, I am the brother-in-law of Gabro…” Gabro Pavliashvili is the member of Kareli’s Private Security Service.

Khikhashvili was accused in the car robbery and assault on the journalist. Some days ago he was convicted and sentenced to 10 year imprisonment in the regional court. 7 years for the robbery and 3 years for the assault.

The victim was inquired once again at the trial. Zaza Gigauri was a lawyer of the accused. Khikhashvili firmly denies the participation in the assault. Saba Tsitsikashvili announced that he recognized assailant according to his appearance. However, it is worth noticing that the assault was made in the daytime while everything was visible and what makes things easy is that they did not wear masks. Gigauri insisted to know from Tsitsikashvili whether he could recognize the accused with hair. In Tsistikashvili’s words, it would not be possible to recognize with hair. His words were followed by the statements from side of the accused Kakha Khikhilashvili: “What is he talking about? How can he guess? He was wearing “a cap”!

Saba Tsitsikashvili states that he could notice one of the assailants with the cap but it was not Khikhilashvili. Tsitsikashvili is doubtful about Khikhilashvili’s innocence and he says that he would not be aware of the person wearing a cap unless he was the member of the team of assailants. In Tsitsikashvili’s opinion this is one of the forms of acknowledging his crime. 

Saba Tsitsikashvili, Gori

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