US Ambassador stresses importance of charging participants of by-election clash

US Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly said his country was ready to help Georgia address the existing problem related to the leak of personal videos., 02 Jun 2016 - 15:14, Tbilisi,Georgia

The United States (US) Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly has spoken out about the importance of charging those involved in a fight during the by-elections in western Zugdidi, saying a tough stance would prevent others from being violent in the future.

Kelly’s comments come shortly after Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs announced it had charged six people with hooliganism for their involvement in the May 22 fist-fight between opposing political groups in Kortskheli village, Zugdidi. 

This afternoon Kelly said it was "very important” those involved in the Kortskheli fight were charged.

He said the fight, which took place during the by-elections for Sakrebulo (local council) was condemned by the US Embassy and he asked Georgian authorities to thoroughly investigate the incident. 

Charges are brought after an investigation. That’s the bottom line. I think this is very important and the right development of the process. This kind of violence in the name of politics was not in any way acceptable. We have been calling from the very first day for accountability. We are pleased that charges were brought after the period of investigation,” said Kelly.

Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs identified the six involved participants of the fight as Giorgi S, Koba S, Giorgi S, Noshrevan S, Grigol T and Vladimer S. 

The six men voluntarily turned themselves in to police and offered testimonies regarding the incident. The men have been officially charged with hooliganism. 

The Ministry said all sides of the clash have been investigated and several people have been questioned about their involvement in the incident.

Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office said the prosecution would  demand bail as a preventive measure for the six men. 

The incident happened on May 22 outside a polling station for the Sakrebulo (local council) by-elections in Kortskheli village, Zugdidi municipality. A clash broke out between supporters of the ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia (GDDG) party and opposition United National Movement (UNM).

The incident was strongly condemned by Georgia’s Prime Minister, who called it "absolutely deplorable” and tasked the Ministry of Justice to draft amendments that would ensure tough punishment for future election violations.