TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgia’s Interior Ministry will pay compensation to journalists who went to court for injuries they suffered when police dispersed a peaceful demonstration on May 26 this year.
Today Tbilisi City Court reviewed the appeal of the case of journalists from different Georgian media units who asked for compensation for injures to themselves and their equipment that night.
One of the complainants, Tazo Kupreishvili, who is a journalist in the online newspaper Netgazeti, says that the Interior Ministry expressed readiness to fully compensate health and material damage they suffered on May 26. Two journalists from Netgazeti will be compensated for their health expenses and the other two for lost equipment.
Health compensation will also be offered journalist from Guria News, while Media Palitra will be paid for a lost flip-camera.
But the Interior Ministry will not fully compensate all the damage the complainants cited. The value of the material damage presented to the court is nearly 5 000 Georgian lari. But the Interior Ministry refused to fully compensate the damage because of lack of evidence in the remaining instances.
A peaceful anti-government rally was held in front of parliament building on May 25, the day before a planned military parade past the same spot on Rustaveli Ave, in connection with Independence Day, Georgia’s national day. Late at night, authorities warned protesters that their permission to demonstrate had expired and they had to break up the demonstration in order to clear the street.
The police showed up in massive numbers, outnumbering protesters ten to one, and completely surrounded them, making it in effect impossible for them to comply with the order to disperse. They then used water cannons, a sonic weapon, teargas, rubber bullets and batons against the crowd, and in the ensuing violence within the confines of three concentric police cordons, several dozen people were injured.
Among the injured were also several journalists who were beaten and lost their equipment. Earlier this fall they took the Ministry of Internal Affairs to court to claim compensation.
The final ruling will be made by Tbilisi City Court on December 26.