Georgian citizen previously sentenced to 12 years pardoned in S. Ossetia
Georgian citizen Zaza Gakheladze has been pardoned in South Ossetia. He was detained by Russian border guards on July 11, 2020, in the zone of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict, and on February 5, 2021, was sentenced to 12,5 years “for illegal border crossing and encroachment on the life of a serviceman”.
According to information from the Russian and Ossetian sides, 34-year-old Gakheladze was detained in the area of the Skhvilo fortress but resisted, fired a hunting rifle and was wounded in the leg by return shots. In Tbilisi, these accusations are described as made-up.
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As reported by the RES agency, the President of South Ossetia Anatoly Bibilov pardoned Gakheladze upon the request of the Russian Patriarch Kirill. On top of that, in exchange for Zaza Gakheladze’s freedom, the Georgian side handed over a resident of South Ossetia V. Gobozov who was held in Tbilisi.
The press service of the South Ossetian Foreign Ministry reported that Gakheladze himself wrote a letter asking for pardon. In it, he apologized for his actions and thanked “the authorities of Ossetia for their humane treatment”.
Georgia demanded the release of Zaza Gakheladze at the last round of the Geneva talks in October 2020, but to no avail.
Members of the Gakheladze family visited him during this time only once with the help of the Red Cross.