Russian-controlled Tskhinvali sentences Georgian doctor to almost two years in prison

Georgian doctor Vazha Gaprindashvili has been in illegal detention since November 9. Photo: Firefly World., 20 Dec 2019 - 15:33, Tbilisi,Georgia

The court in Georgia’s Russian-controlled Tskhinvali region has sentenced a well-known Georgian doctor Vazha Gaprindashvili to one year and nine-months to prison for “deliberately crossing the border,” despite a large-scale local and international campaign for the release of the abducted doctor.

The information has been released by head of Georgia’s Bar Association David Asatiani. 

Gaprindashvili was abducted on November 9 and was sentenced to illegal, two-month pretrial detention on November 15 in the Russian-occupied Tskhinvali region, where he was allegedly visiting a patient.

The trial in Tskhinvali was held earlier today, with expectations in Tbilisi that the doctor would be released.

Tskhinvali is demanding from Gaprindashvili admit to “crossing the border,” which the doctor refuses to say, stating that “Tskhinvali is part of Georgia and is now occupied by Russia.”

Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani raised the issue during his meeting with the Chair of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak on December 7.

Zalkaliani also raised the issue with High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, acting chair of OSCE Miroslav Lajcak, Deputy Secretary General of UN Rosemary DiCarlo and Deputy Secretary General of NATO Mircea Geoana.

Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia has stated  that government agencies are working in a 24-hour regime to achieve the release of doctor Gaprindashvili.

A number of officials and organisations, including President Salome Zurabishvili, the United States Embassy to Georgia, the US mission to OSCE have expressed their support to Gaprindashvili.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry said on November 16 that they are doing their best to ensure the safe return of the doctor.