On 5 February, a court in South Ossetia sentenced Giorgi Giunashvili to 20 years in prison on charges of terrorism and sabotage. Giunashvili was arrested in July 2016.
According to South Ossetia’s de facto authorities, Giunashvili was a part of a ‘Security Group’, controlled by the Georgian special services. He is accused of being responsible for a grenade explosion in 2007 in the village of Khelchua, located in South Ossetia; for an attack on South Ossetia’s military in 2008; and for participating in the August 2008 Russo-Georgian War.
The State Security Service of Georgia released detailed information about Giunashvili’s case to appeal to the international community.
The South Ossetian authorities regularly detain people crossing the border between South Ossetia and the rest of Georgia. A day after the sentence was handed down, on 6 February, a 48-year-old man, Jimsher Tielidze, was arrested for crossing border. He is from the village of Zerti, right on the dividing line. After being detained, border guards took him to Tskhinvali, South Ossetia’s capital.
In 2016, Tielidze was detained for the same reason, and only after paying a ₽2000 ($34) fine, was he released.
Manana Tielidze, the spouse of the arrested man, claims that her husband was on Georgian controlled territory, in the village of Kirbali. She also claims that the family is socially vulnerable and will not be able to pay a fine if one is demanded.
According to Georgia’s Public Defender, there are 11 people wrongly imprisoned in South Ossetia. Some, are accused of spying and have been held since 2008. Two of these are women. Before being detained, these people had maintained communications with and visited relatives living across the dividing line.