Georgian parliamentary committees support request for arrest of opposition MP
After lengthy and intense discussions, the Georgian parliamentary committees on procedural and legal issues supported the request to lift immunity from opposition MP Niki Melia.
This issue was discussed in the early morning at the request of the prosecutor’s office.
Melia is accused of organizing, leading and participating in group violence on June 20-21 at the Georgian parliament building.
At that time, demonstrators tried to break into the courtyard of the parliament, entered into hand-to-hand combat with the police guarding the parliament building. As a result, the rally was brutally dispersed, and more than 200 people were injured.
If the charges against Nika Melia are proved, then he will face six to nine years of imprisonment.
In the morning, Nika Melia did not appear at the General Prosecutor’s Office, where he was summoned to be charged. He was waiting for the decision of the MPs.
The arguments of the prosecutor’s office
At a joint meeting of the procedural and legal committees, prosecutor Amiran Guluashvili stated that Melia was accused of inciting participants in a peaceful rally to attack police officers on June 20.
“Melia is accused of committing unlawful actions against public safety and order, which entails crimes of a severe category and, according to the current legislation, is without any alternative punishable by imprisonment for a long time,” said the prosecutor.
Guluashvili says there is a high probability that he will try to escape or put pressure on witnesses.
Melia’s lawyer Giorgi Kondakhishvili stated that he was not provided with evidence of the defendant’s guilt and it is not known what the charges are based on.
“Presumably, we can talk about public statements, in which Nika Melia tried to continue the peaceful, constructive protest with raised hands to relocate into the door of parliament. As a lawyer, I assert that in these actions there is no violation of article 225 of the criminal code.
This is a legal absurdity. Nika Melia himself is in the parliament of Georgia, he is not going to hide! He is ready to present himself before justice … He is not afraid of arrest if such a decision is made”, lawyer Giorgi Kondakhishvili said.
The reaction of the opposition and “false witnesses”
“You refuse to discuss the main demand of the protesters. Trying to block [them], you [instead] propose to have a conversation about the arrest of a political opponent”, Irakli Abesadze, a member of the opposition European Georgia, said to members of the parliamentary majority at a joint meeting of the committees.
He asked a representative of the Prosecutor General’s Office whether a criminal case had been initiated against the heads of the Ministry of the Interior.
“The case, we see, has been concocted, we have not been provided with any convincing evidence, and the only thing on which the prosecution’s charges are based is the testimony of witnesses, most of whom, as we managed to establish, are activists of the Georgian Dream, provocateurs.
You can find their photos in society with policemen on Facebook … These people extol (Minister of the Interior) Gakharia, write that Gakharia is a hero … The use of such witnesses is a crime. All in due time will go to jail”, said United National Movement MP Roman Gotsiridze.
In addition to the protest in front of parliament, a protest against the planned arrest of Nika Melia is being held near the building.
For the seventh day, protests continue in Tbilisi demanding the resignation of Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia, who, according to the protesters, should be held responsible for the events of June 20-21.