TBILISI, DFWatch–Tbilisi City Court on Friday unexpectedly acquitted a man of premeditated murder and sentenced him instead to four years in prison for beating another victim the same evening.
Levan Kochlashvili was on trial for having physically assaulted Beka Beriani, a.k.a. Sabi (23), on November 10, 2014, in her flat in Tbilisi, then stabbed her to death with a knife and set the flat on fire in order to cover up his crime.
There were three charges against Kochlashvili: premeditated murder without aggravating circumstances, beating and causing damage to property.
The court found him not guilty in the most serious murder charge, but found him guilty of having beaten another transgender woman the same evening as Sabi died.
A statement published on court’s website says it decided that Mr Kochlashvili “was acting lawfully in a necessary self-defense situation” and that prosecutors had failed to prove otherwise.
The defendant was found guilty of only the two lesser charges, and due to a principle in Georgian law that says the most serious charge absorbs the lesser, he was given a sentence only for the beating.
Sabi Beriani was a transwoman who appeared on several TV programs advocating the rights of transgender people. Her murder led to an outpouring of support.