TBILISI, DFWatch–Tbilisi City Court on Friday acquitted four people for organizing a violent anti-gay rights rally in 2013.
The four, who also included clergy in the Georgian Orthodox Church, were on trial for urging protesters who disrupted a peaceful rally to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17 that year.
A crowd of several thousand charged a small gathering of gay rights activists, demanding to ‘punish the sinners,’ and nearly thirty people were injured in the clashes, including journalists.
After more than two years, judge Davit Mgeliashvli announced his decision. Irakli Basilaia, abbot at Monastery in Mtskheta, was acquitted, as were Tital Davrishiani, Beka Salukvadze and Giorgi Basilashvili. They were charged with interrupting a demonstration, which may be punished with a fine or up to one year in jail.
The court decided that there was insufficient evidence to consider a case against a fifth defendant, priest Antimoz.
The evidence included videos shot by journalists and others, which showed how priests and activists broke through the police cordon and ran toward the gay rights demonstrators, shouting, and chased after a bus which was evacuating around 30 organizers of the planned IDAHO event.
The footage also shows Irakli Basilaia grabbing a street vendor’s chair and running after the bus with it. The evidence included photos and protocols about damaged cars, buses and other property.
In the weeks following May 17, 2013, there were many attacks on people in the streets based on their appearance and alleged sexual orientation.