Tbilisi City Court has sent the former official of the Interior Ministry under the United National Movement (UNM) government, lawyer Giorgi Oniani to prison for four years and six months.
The court found him guilty on all four charges of abuse of authority, falsification of evidence, political persecution and illegal detention.
The Prosecutor’s Office reported that in 2011, when Oniani served as the deputy head of Gldani-Nadzaladevi police station in Tbilisi, he illegally detained Dao Print Manager David Shatirishvili for making t-shirts with the Georgian Dream logo, prior to the 2012 parliamentary elections when the Georgian Dream ended the nine-year rule of the UNM.
The prosecutor’s office stated that Oniani tasked his employees to plant drugs on Shatirishvili to charge him for drug-related crimes.
The same year Oniani also detained DJ Levan Mdinaradze, known as DJ Rambo, for the distribution of Georgian Dream elections t-shirts, the Prosecutor’s Office stated.
I have been waiting for the verdict for three years, every day. I even lost hope. The court studied all details and delivered the verdict only after,” Mdinaradze said about the arrest.
Oniani was threatening me in case I did not cooperate with the UNM. I was sentenced to six years then. Now justice has been restored,” Mdinaradze added.
The Georgian Dream representatives stated that the court has made a fair decision based on evidence and grounded findings.
The UNM claims Oniani is a political prisoner.
UNM member Nika Melia told the media that if Oniani moved to the European Georgia opposition group [the opposition party established after the 2016 parliamentary elections by former members of the UNM and several new faces] he would be free now.
The government releases those from prison who are in their interests [allegedly referring to former Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava, one of the founders of the European Georgia] and arrests real opponents,” Ugulava said.
For its part the European Georgia condemned the arrest and stated they would fight for the release of the "political prisoner Oniani.”