TBILISI, DFWatch–New details might help police find out who attacked Jehovah’s Witnesses in Ozurgeti two weeks ago.
In the attack, which took place on January 1, strangers broke the windows of a car the Witnesses were sitting in and threw stones at the building where they were meeting.
The investigation is launched on the basis of section 187 of the Criminal Code, which deals with damaging or destroying someone’s property.
Manuchar Tsimintia, Jehovah’s Witnesses’ lawyer, told DFwatch that he was told by Paata Kharabadze, second deputy of the head of Ozurgeti regional police district, that several days ago, police discovered new useful details for the investigation, but the lawyer refrained from talking about them yet.
According to the Public Defender’s office, there were 40 investigations into cases of religiously motivated violence from 2009 to 2011, and investigations into 15 cases of harassment of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2008-2012 were canceled.
A statement made by Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center’s (EMC) in 2013, says: “Policemen often are either loyal to this violence or are involved in it themselves. The government’s reaction in these cases is limited to launching an investigation that usually is canceled after a few months. Often the police refuse to launch an investigation and warn the offenders only verbally or in writing.”
Tsimintia confirms that more than half a year ago, policemen were just observing the situation and not investigating the cases.
“At this moment, I can say, that the progress is remarkable. For the last few months, police is quite active and really tries to work productively and investigate the cases,” Tsimintia said, and added that during the last two weeks, there have been launched five or six new investigations.
“There has always existed incidents on religious background in country, but in 2013 media’s and society’s interest toward this issues has increased and everyone saw the problem of intolerance on religious background clearly,” Public Defender Ucha Nanuashvili told DF Watch.
We will bring you more on this story later.