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Absent Bitsadze sentenced to 5 and a half years' imprisonment

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, August 22
Tbilisi City Court has sent former border police chief, the husband of an opposition leader Nino Burjanadze, Badri Bitsadze to prison for five years and six months. The judge announced the ruling in absentia on August 19.

Bitsadze was charged with organization of resistance to the police via group violence and intimidation of violence aiming at disturbing public order.

The defendant did not attend the trial, as his whereabouts are unknown since the dispersal of the May 26 opposition rallies in Tbilisi.

As expected the verdict has been the cause of much controversy. The court said that Bitsadze was found guilty of creating a “paramilitary group” with an aim “to organize attacks on police with a purpose to stir large-scale physical confrontation” during the street protest rallies this May- the statement made by the Tbilisi City Court's press speaker, Eka Areshidze. According to the statement the verdict was based on "solid and well - grounded" proofs. Bitsadze was named as the creator of the Sworn Battalion in the Representative Public Assembly, which was aimed at carrying out an attack on police and imposing large scale confrontation in the society.

The case will be appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and will end with the victory of Bitsadze- leader of Democratic Movement-United Georgia and wife of Bitsadze, Nino Burjanadze said. According to her, the trial was one more sign of the absence of free and impartial court in the country, "the man was judged for a group crime, when there are neither co participants of the crime, nor those who had carried out the crime. This is one chink in the long chain of injustice in the country, which will be broken." As Burjanadze mentioned she intends to appeal the decision in Georgia as part of the procedure for sending the case to the ECHR. It has also been made clear that Bitsadze is not going to stand against the Georgian court, as Burjanadze underlined, "if someone has an opportunity not to stand against Saakashvili's private police and Court, he should use it."

Opposition party Free Democrats have already called Bitsadze a political prisoner, against whom the Georgian Government carried out repression, "the decision has been made by the prosecutor's office and the judge just signed it. The international community should give the case a fair assessment," leader of the party, Kakha Kukava said.

Analyst, Gia Khukhashvili told The Messenger, Bitsadze could be given only an administrative punishment for May events, "I have no positive attitude towards Bitsadze, however our attitudes should not determine whether somebody is guilty or not. What he has done was an administrative crime. Herewith, there were some other people, with Bitsadze, who were inadequately punished as well and in such kinds of issues, injustice is very frequently carried out by the current authorities."

Thus, one more man has been added to the list of judged ones in absentia, whose number is increasing in the country, based on the reason that Georgian Court is not allegedly free and impartial according to their opinion.