Police arrest bank robber after two-year search

Badri Esebua, who attacked the Bank of Georgia Zugdidi branch in 2020, has been arrested in Samegrelo region, in the country’s west. Photo: RFE/RL

Agenda.ge, 08 Feb 2023 - 11:43, Tbilisi,Georgia

The Georgian Interior Ministry on Wednesday confirmed the arrest of a man who was wanted since October 2020 for a robbery of a Bank of Georgia branch in the country’s western Samegrelo region, during which he took hostages and reportedly escaped with half a million dollars. 

The body said Badri Esebua had been arrested in the region and charged with coercion, illegal purchase, possession and carrying of firearms and ammunition, organisation of a terrorist act and hostage-taking. 

The Ministry added Esebua had been detained in a special operation and faced up to 15 years in prison if found guilty. 

Video by the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Police received a call about the armed robbery at the branch located on Zviad Gamsakhurdia Avenue in the city of Zugdidi on October 21, 2020. 

The robber initially took 43 people hostage, before "long and complicated negotiations" ended in the release of most of the victims, with Esebua leaving the Bank late during the night with the head of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti Police Chief and three hostages. He then released the remaining hostages and escaped. 

In December 2020, police arrested Esebua’s brother for illegal purchase and possession of firearms and ammunition and the court sentenced him to four years in prison in July 2021.