TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgian police accepts responsibility for damages journalists suffered as law enforcers violently dispersed a peaceful demonstration May 26.
After the second court hearing of the trial at Tbilisi city court Wednesday, the Interior Ministry representative suggested to the journalists and media organizations affected by the violence to come to an agreement.
Natia Kapanadze, the lawyer who defends the media who is suing the government, said the meeting was very short and Nino Tsotsonava, the Interior Ministry representative was late so she could not even attend the hearing.
But when she finally arrived, she suggested to the journalists they they should come to an agreement saying that the state partly acknowledges responsibility. According to Natia Kapanadze, the suggestion is more like a trial balloon, as it is not formally binding and it’s unclear what conditions apply.
“I cannot say whether the media representatives will come to an agreement or not,” she added.
Mzia Amaglobeli, founder of the Batumelebi Ltd. [one of plaintiffs] strictly rules out any kind of an agreement with the Interior Ministry, Netgazeti reported today.
At the first hearing in the case, three journalists and four media companies presented Tbilisi Citi Court with a list of ten witnesses who were willing to testify to seeing police beating the journalists and take their equipment.
Video footage was also shown of how one journalist was shot with the rubber bullets by police, and medical statements were also presented describing the journalists’ injuries.
At today’s hearing the judge presented the plaintiff with the defendant’s counter-appeal.
“It states that yes, the government is responsible for these kinds of damages, but they say that the evidence presented does not show proof of police inflicting material damage to the journalists,” Natia Kapanadze told DFWatch.
According to her, at today’s preparatory hearing the plaintiffs were instructed to present the ten witnesses to the court, so they can retell what happened that night.
On the night of May 26, Georgia’s independence day, the police brutally dispersed a peaceful anti-government protest rally in front of the parliament building in the center of Tbilisi. The number of dead is disputed, but by many set to four, including one policeman.
A journalist from Netgazeti has told DFWatch of how he was beaten by police who also took his camera. He is asking for compensation for financial damages.
The main hearing is set to start in Tbilisi City Court on November 22.