Court sentences ex-deputy minister to pre-trial detention for May 26, 2011 brutal dispersal of rally

Georgia’s ex-Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Giorgi Lortkipanidze now serves as Police Chief of Odessa in Ukraine. Photo by, 28 Sep 2016 - 17:44, Tbilisi,Georgia

An ex-official of the former government has been sentenced to pre-trial detention for exceeding official powers during a peaceful opposition rally on May 26, 2011 that left two people dead and 250 injured.

Today Tbilisi City Court imposed a sentence of pre-trial detention for Georgia’s ex-Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Giorgi Lortkipanidze for his role in the 2011 incident.

He was one of several former high officials of the United National Movement (UNM) government charged for brutally dispersing a peaceful opposition rally protesting UNM governance five years ago on May 26 – Georgia’s Independence Day.

The Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia said the dispersal was planned by Lortkipanidze’s boss, Georgia’s ex-Minister of Internal Affairs Ivane [Vano] Merabishvili. Lortkipanidze was tasked to disperse and detain protesters with other state officials of the time. 

Last week the Prosecutor’s Office charged four former top police officials for their involvement in the case.

Lortkipanidze is not in Georgia. He currently serves as head of the main police department of Odessa in Ukraine, alongside Georgia’s ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili who is the Govenor of Odessa region.

Lortkipanidze’s lawyer told media today he didn’t know whether his client would return to Georgia, but he stressed he would appeal today’s court verdict.

If found guilty Lortkipanidze will spend five to eight years behind bars. 

The Prosecutor’s Office said during the May 26, 2011 rally, protesters were blocked by police resulting in the death of two men. More than 250 other were injured and over 800 people were illegally detained.