What do the police and the Ombudsman say?
Fifty-five-year-old Zviad Mtavrishvili, a resident of the Georgian village of Kachreti, died as a result of police brutality, says his family members.
Mtavrishvili’s family members told reporters that he had had an argument with his relatives on 22 March. They wanted to intimidate him, and thus called the police. The law enforcement officers reportedly acted aggressively, supposedly because while they were being called on the phone, they heard Mtavrishvili cursing at them in the background.
Family members say that when he returned home from the police he was beaten up. His condition soon began to deteriorate, and he was hospitalised on 30 March. He died on 15 April from a cerebral hemorrhage.
An autopsy will confirm the cause of death.
What do the police have to say?
The Minister of Internal Affairs, Giorgi Gakharia, says that the prosecutor’s office is investigating the circumstances surrounding Mtavrishvili’s death.
“There is a detailed study of the case and the public will soon be notified of everything,” the minister said, noting that the police officers are not currently under suspicion.
The police said that Mtavrishvili was brought in for questioning after he had quarreled with his sister and had threatened to throw her out on the street. Moreover, the police had a warrant for his arrest as he had a restraining order preventing him from approaching his sister or her child.
A few days later after Mtavrishvili’s hospitalisation, his family stated that a hematoma developed in his cranium as a result of police brutality.
The Interior Ministry, in turn, claims that the General Inspectorate carried out an inspection of the Kachreti police station, downloaded video camera records and interrogated the police themselves, but there was no evidence of any violence against Mtavrishvili.
Police violence – the Ombudsman’s report
The Georgian Ombudsman’s report on police brutality, published on 1 April, shows that the number of people who were subjugated to police brutality in 2018 decreased. The office of the Ombudsman appealed to the prosecutor’s office with such cases only five times, whereas in 2017 there were 10 such cases.
The report states that the prosecutor’s office launched 367 cases of allegedly disproportionate police force or actions against suspects. Of these cases, 90 per cent were launched for abuse of authority, and only 10 per cent for torture and humiliation.
At the same time, the ombudsman’s report stresses that the percentage of perpetrators is low. Of the 367 cases mentioned, only 12 persons were called in to account for their actions — all for a relatively minor charge of ‘abuse of power’.