For Immediate Release
August 16, 2000
Court case in the Republic of Georgia against victim of mob violence to be held today
In an unusual twist of justice, prosecutors in the Republic of Georgia are charging a victim of a recent mob attack with hooliganism. A hearing on the case is scheduled for noon today at the Gldani-Nadzaladevi Court.
The victim, Mirian Arabidze, was one of those who required hospital treatment following an attack on October 17, 1999, by a mob of 200 during a religious service of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“It is absurd to issue such a decision against one of the victims,” said defense attorney M. Tchabashvili. “Seventy victims of that attack filed complaints with the city prosecutor. We even have a videotape showing how the mob beat victims and afterward burned Bibles and private property.”
Sixteen Jehovah’s Witnesses required hospital treatment following the mob attack by Basilists, followers of a nationalist priest who was excommunicated from the Georgian Orthodox Church. Televised reports showed men, women, and children attempting to flee and being beaten with clubs and iron crosses.
Georgia President Eduard Shevardnadze had condemned the actions of the mob and called for a criminal case to be brought against the perpetrators. Instead, police investigator Gocha Kachiuri of the City Investigation Department indicted one of the victims.
Two smaller groups of Jehovah’s Witnesses were attacked by mobs of Basilists this summer.
Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian faith with some six million followers worldwide, have been present in Georgia for decades.
On May 20, 1999, Georgia signed the European Convention for Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which includes freedom of religion.
Contact: J. R. Brown, telephone: (718) 560-5600