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Georgia To Prosecute Adjar Security Officials

Tbilisi, 16 March 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Georgian authorities today said that they will launch criminal proceedings against those security officials in Adjaria who earlier this week prevented President Mikheil Saakashvili from entering the autonomous Black Sea province.

Addressing reporters in Tbilisi, Prosecutor-General Irakli Okruashvili said Adjar Interior Minister Djemal Gogitidze was among the prime targets of the investigation. Okruashvili said that his office will request that Gogitidze's parliamentary immunity from prosecution be lifted.

Okruashvili said that another half-dozen Adjar security officials accused of sponsoring attacks against opposition activists and Georgian reporters will be prosecuted and that their bank accounts will be frozen.

The 14 March border incident in which Saakashvili was denied access to Adjaria has served as a formal pretext for the Georgian leader to impose a partial economic blockade on Adjaria.

Saakashvili is eager to restore control over the unruly province ahead of the 28 March parliamentary elections.