TBILISI, DFWatch – A Georgian newspaper has gone public with the identity of a policeman who blackmailed one of its journalists two years ago.
According to the newspaper Batumelebi, which is published in the western coast city Batumi, the person who blackmailed Tedo Jorvbenadze, the coordinator of the paper’s investigative team, on November 25, 2009, was a policeman named Davit Devnozashvili.
“The person who tried to entice the journalist to cooperate with the police in an illegal way is Davit Devnozashvili, born in 1971,” reads a letter addressed to the Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili and written by the director of Batumelebi Ltd.
Three Batumelebi employees went to the Interior Ministry Building in Batumi, after police tried to force Tedo Jorbenadze to sit in the car in the evening in front of the newspaper office. He refused and suggested to go there himself.
Netgazeti, an online newspaper run by Batumelebi, reported that a person called Davit showed Jorbenadze black and white photos of naked men insisting that the journalist was one of the men on the photos. If he didn’t cooperate with them, then they would publish these photos. The same day, the editor-in-chief and the director of Batumelebi, Eter Turadze and Mzia Amaglobeli, went to the Interior Ministry building together with Jorbenadze.
“Foreign special-services are interested in your editorial staff, and you, as one among the editorial staff who make decisions, must cooperate with us,” Tedo Jorbenadze remembered the policeman saying.
After a two-year independent journalistic investigation, on November 20, Mzia Amaglobeli identified the policeman near his place of living. She called for police, who arrived together with investigators.
“After calling the police officers (we know the name of one of the officers – Khvicha Kirvalidze) they didn’t register or carry out documentation of the event,” the letter to the Interior Minister says. “With the formal statements they failed to fulfill their obligations.”
Netgazeti reports that police confirmed to Mzia Amaglobeli that Dato Devnozashvili really lives in that flat, and that he really is a law enforcement officer. They also confirmed that the investigation is continuing and there is ongoing surveillance of the apartment.
Representing Tedo Jorbenadze in the case, Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA) released a statement a few days ago, saying that if police fails to carry out their duties it may significantly damage the investigation.
The statement clarifies four points regarding the case. GYLA requests that the Georgian prosecutor’s office ‘take prompt and timely measures towards the identified person and questions the newspaper’s staff; also take possible measures so that the identified person don’t avoid investigation; to establish the identities of the police officers which arrived at the premises and make inquiries about their responsibility; inform the public of the results of the investigation of the case.’
An investigation was started initially in Adjara prosecutor’s office, but it was stalled because the identity of the police officer remained unknown until today.