A Georgian citizen illegally sentenced to 20 years in prison by an unrecognised court in Georgia's Russian-occupied Abkhazia region has been released today.
Giorgi Lukava, who had been illegally held in Dranda Prison in breakaway Abkhazia since May of 2011, was handed over to the Georgian authorities earlier today at the Enguri Bridge, a crossing point between the occupied region and the rest of Georgia.
The State Minister of Georgia for Reconciliation and Civic Equality, Ketevan Tsikhelashvili, assessed the release of the man as "a positive example of cooperation on humanitarian issues between the Georgian and Abkhaz sides”.
"I am more than happy that after almost a seven-year imprisonment, Giorgi Lukava is now free and will meet the New Year at home with his family, wife and children”, the minister said.
"I thank everyone who was involved in the resolution of this case that had a high humanitarian importance. This will be positively reflected in the peace-building process and in the restoration of trust between Georgians and Abkhazians”.
Lukava was detained by the occupation force in the village of Zemo Barghebi in Gali district almost seven years ago. He was convicted of "being a fighter/terrorist" and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Since then, the Georgian side has been raising the issue of his illegal imprisonment at every international format and talks between Georgian and separatist authorities.
Meanwhile last month, on November 26, another Georgian citizen sentenced to 20 years in prison, Giorgi Giunashvili, was released from jail in Tskhinvali region (South Ossetia), another Russian-occupied territory of Georgia.