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Tbilisi police chief dismissed for ‘abuse of power’

23 June 2017
(Liberali)

The head of Police Station #7 in Tbilisi’s Samgori–Isani District, has been dismissed from his post, after Georgian media outlet Liberali released footage which appears to show police abuse.

In the video, police officers are seen forcing Shota Pakeliani to take off his clothes in front of a number of officers. The video also appears to show officers twice going through Pakeliani’s mobile phone, according to Liberali, to remove video footage of police acting improperly.

Pakeliani was arrested in Tbilisi on 23 March 2017. Soon after his arrest, he was brought to hospital in a coma, suffering from a serious head injury. The Ministry of Internal Affairs released a statement claiming that he was injured while attempting to escape and hide from police.

Soon after his arrest, a video was published showing Pakeliani’s relatives trying to obtain information about his condition from the police station. In the video, emergency services and relatives try to find out why Pakeliani is shouting for help, but the relatives are forced by police to leave the building.

As a result of his complaint, Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor's Office opened an investigation on 3 April into possible abuse of power by police. According to the Prosecutor's Office, experts were employed to identify the individuals seen in the video and to verify its authenticity.

A lawyer for the Tbilisi-based Human Rights Education and Monitoring Centre, Gagi Mosiashvili, told Liberali that the video shows a number of violations by police.

According to him, the video also brings into question the reliability of police reports on Pakeliani’s arrest, because information in the reports does not correspond with what appears in the video.

‘Both police officers’ reports indicate that Pakeliani was searched on the scene and not in the police station. This is contradicted in the video, which completely undermines the basis of their reports’, he says.

Pakeliani was sentenced last year to a three-year suspended prison sentence for ‘purchasing and storing drugs’.

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