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Amnesty Wants Georgia To Probe 'Excessive Force' Against Demonstrators

Two police officers were killed after breaking up demonstrations in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, on May 26.
The international human rights group Amnesty International has urged Georgia to investigate official violence against antigovernment protesters in the wake of a street riot that killed two police officers.

Amnesty said that during a May 26 demonstration Georgian police clubbed unarmed and peaceful demonstrators and fired rubber bullets and tear gas at bystanders and journalists. Some 90 people have been detained.

An OSCE statement says at least 10 reporters were verbally and physically abused by police officers. Some were detained for questioning; others had their press cards taken away, and their equipment damaged or confiscated.

In a letter to Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic, said: "The fact that the police would abuse, detain and question reporters engaged in their professional duties is worrisome."

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said on May 26 that the demonstrators were possibly financed by Russia and had aimed to destabilize the country.

The British government also called on Georgian authorities to investigate the violence.

compiled from agency reports