TBILISI, DFWatch–The Georgian ombudsman addresses law enforcement bodies to properly and effectively investigate the attack on priests at an Armenian church on July 19.
On Saturday, about 50 people attacked Surb Etchmiadzin Church in Tbilisi. The Armenian Diocese says the attack was motivated by religious and ethnic prejudice, but the Interior Ministry denies the incident was a case of discrimination.
The ombudsman’s statement on Monday says that considering the context in which the incident took place it is important that the investigation is launched with proper qualification in order to avoid further tension in the situation.
The investigation is based on section 125 of the criminal code, about beating, but employees of the Ombudsman’s Office have questioned witnesses and studied footage taken on the day of the attack and concluded that another types of crime might have taken place: It could be hooliganism, organized group violence, or damaging someone’s health.
“It is important that law enforcement bodies collect and carefully study all the evidence which can indicate that the crime might have been committed on ethnic motives,” the statement reads.
The ombudsman writes that there is a background of religious and ethnic intolerance in the country and therefore the government and society must do its best to rapidly give clear answers to the incident which took place on July 19.
“It is necessary that the government, civil society and media make efforts not to let a new wave of intolerance take place in the country.”
On Sunday, the Armenian ambassador to Georgia told journalists that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia sent a note to Georgia about the incident at Surb Etchmiadzin Church.
He said the Armenian government knows what has happened and why the disagreement started, but at this stage they cannot say that it happened deliberately.
The ambassador says that law enforcement bodies will find out what happened.
Patriarchate’s Foreign Affairs Department and a bishop of Armenian Church met Tuesday to discuss what happened on Saturday, according to a statement by the Georgian Orthodox Church.
“The Georgian Church condemns the incident and calls on participants in the confrontation to make peace,” the statement reads. “The Church as usual will help to solve the problem and to create peaceful coexistence of religious confessions in the country.”