Accessibility links

Breaking News

More Arrested In Georgia Over June 20 Violence, Interior Minister Questioned

Georgian Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia (file photo)

TBILISI -- Three additional people have been arrested in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi who authorities suspect of participating in group violence last month when demonstrators tried to storm the parliament building.

At the same time, prosecutors on July 17 summoned Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia for questioning as part of the ongoing investigation into the possible use of excessive force by law enforcement during the June 20-21 protests.

After leaving the prosecutor's office early on July 18, Gakharia revealed little about the questioning, saying only that "there were a lot of questions" and that he would appear before prosecutors as often as requested.

Two police officers have so far been arrested for exceeding official powers during the dispersal of the rally near parliament in June.

Ten law enforcement officers as well as the head of the Interior Ministry’s Special Tasks Department have been suspended pending investigation into the actions by security personnel.

Gakharia on June 28 told reporters that he was prepared to resign only when the excessive-force probe concludes.

Prosecutors have alleged that the mass protests that roiled the Georgian capital last month were part of an attempted coup by unnamed individuals seeking to seize power.

Protesters initially gathered outside parliament on June 20 after a Russian lawmaker had sat in the Georgian parliament speaker's seat while addressing a council of deputies from predominantly Orthodox Christian countries.

Violent clashes between protesters and the police ensued with hundreds of injuries and arrests.

Twelve people who allegedly resisted police and assaulted them were detained as of July 15.

Georgian opposition lawmaker Nika Melia of the United National Movement was charged on June 25 with organizing mass riots.

He called the charges absurd and was later released on bail.

With reporting by Interfax and