Former journalist accused of attempted murder
By Salome Modebadze
Friday, February 3Sopho Nikolaishvili, a former journalist at the newspaper Voice of Kakheti, was arrested Tuesday for attempted murder and illegal possession of a firearm, the Ministry of Interior Affairs reports.
According to officials, Nikolaishvili, 20, tried to kill 21-year-old Kakheti policeman Giorgi Sibashvili on the evening of January 31 in Gurjaani. In a statement given to investigators, Sibashvili said that he had met Nikolaishvili last spring; they had become friends and had no history of conflict. Sibashvili claims that Nikolaishvili asked him to meet her on Tuesday. When he arrived, the former journalist tried to shoot him with her father’s gun. Sibashvili was able to gain control of the firearm and take Nikolaishvili into custody.
Davit Nikolaishvili, the suspect's father, denied his daughter had intended to kill Sibashvili, stating that she was merely defending herself. He did not know she had been arrested until Wednesday, after presuming her missing on Tuesday night. Nikolaishvili linked his daughter’s arrest to her anti-government activities.
The elder Nikolaishvili, who is the Gurjaani activist of Bidzina Ivanishvili’s political movement Georgian Dream, spoke of experiencing tension in the community for his “different political views” - particularly after he started gathering signatures for restoration of Georgian citizenship for Ivanishvili and his wife.
“They found out that I had a daughter who was a journalist and hit me in my weakest place,” he said, stressing that he will not back away from his views. Promising to fight against the current government even harder, Nikolaishvili asked human rights advocates to take on his daughter’s case and speak out on the violation of her rights.
According to her father, Sopho Nikolaishvili was not provided with access to a lawyer or allowed to make a phone call on the night of her detention. Sibashvili’s father, who is the Deputy Head of the Gurjaani Police, attended her testimony with other officials who, according to Davit Nikolaishvili, fabricated the story of attempted murder. “This is one team backing up one another and acting against me,” supposed Nikolaishvili.
Investigation of the case is under the way. Sopho Nikolaishvili remains under preliminary detention waiting for a verdict. The process has been postponed for 24 hours so that the judge can better familiarize himself with the case and decide whether the young journalist will face a sentence of seven to 15 years.
The question of why Nikolaishvili was in possession of her father’s firearm remains unanswered.