Illegally detained Georgian citizen Zaza Gakheladze has been ‘pardoned’ today by the de facto president of the Russian occupied region of Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) Anatoly Bibilov.
Zaza Gakheladze had been illegally detained by Russian occupying forces for more than a year.
The Georgian government has been demanding the release of Zaza Gakheladze for a year on the international level within the framework of various negotiating platforms.
The unconditional release of Georgian citizens illegally detained by occupation forces was in the focus of the 101st meeting of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) held yesterday in Ergneti.
Georgian Catholics Patriarch Ilia II sent a letter to Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Kirill requesting the release of Zaza Gakheladze several weeks ago.
We ask you to petition for [Gakheladze’s] release from prison and return him to his family. We understand that this is a difficult issue, but it should be taken into account that Gakheladze got there accidentally. His release will bring joy to all the Georgian people, who sincerely sympathise with him for this misunderstanding,” said the letter.
Family members of illegally detained Zaza Gakheladze only once managed to visit him in Tskhinvali prison with the involvement of the Red Cross.
In June Gakheladze’s family members held a march in the village of Kvemo Chala and planned to hold a protest rally and block the highway.
The de facto Supreme Court of the Russian-occupied Tskhinvali region sentenced Zaza Gakheladze to 12 years and six months of imprisonment.
Gakheladze was charged with two articles of the Russian Criminal Code - attempted murder and illegal crossing of the border.
Zaza Gakheladze, a resident of the village of Kvemo Chala in Kaspi Municipality was shot, wounded and illegally detained by the occupation forces on July 11, 2020.