TBILISI, DFWatch–The leader of Georgia’s largest opposition party UNM was among 19 people detained on Monday as street protests resumed against a murder investigation.
Authorities came down hard on organizers as the rallies resumed Monday as a deadline set by protesters expired the day before.
The confrontation occurred when the police started removing tents in front of the old parliament building on Rustaveli Avenue in the center of Tbilisi.
Among those detained at the rally in front of parliament was Nika Melia, MP and the chair of Georgia’s largest opposition United National Movement.
Also detained Monday was Irakli Nadiradze, chair of the UNM faction in Tbilisi City Council.
They were both released and soon after re-joined the rally.
The unrest began with a court ruling in a, as protesters see it, botched murder trial with suspicion of favoritism by a prosecutor looking to protect his own son from prosecution.
Monday’s rally was held in solidarity with Zaza Saralidze, whose son was murdered in that school brawl, and Malkhaz Machalikashvili, whose sons was killed in an anti-terrorism operation last December.
Among the detainees was also Zviad Kuprava, a UNM sympathizer, who has helped organize rallies along with Zaza Saralidze rallies since May 31. He was detained in the canteen at Tbilisi City Court as he was having lunch with Saralidze. Later he was sentenced to 14 days in custody for administrative offenses.
The rallies resumed on Sunday after a deadline, proposed by Zaza Saralidze to start ‘real’ investigation of a high-profile double murder of two schoolboys in Tbilisi center, passed.
Malkhaz Machalikashvili is the father of a 19 year old resident of Pankisi Gorge who was killed during a counter-terrorism operation in Tbilisi in December, 2017.
The investigation into both incidents have caused a wide section of society to suspect mishandling or deliberate sabotage by prosecutors.
The two fathers, Saralidze and Machalikashvili, vow to keep on protesting until they see results that they can have faith in from the two investigations.