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Georgian Officials Charged After Allegedly Forcing Man To Wash Face With Urine

Marneuli Mayor Temur Abazov faces five to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Marneuli Mayor Temur Abazov faces five to 10 years in prison if convicted.

The mayor of the eastern Georgian town of Marneuli and a parliament deputy have been arrested by police for allegedly assaulting a local resident and making him wash his face with urine at a protest march.

According to prosecutor Jarji Tsiklauri, the attack came on June 10 when the victim, Elchin Alakhverdiev, was reportedly forced to utter insulting words about Mayor Temur Abazov's wife during a mass demonstration sparked by the murder last year of two students in the capital, Tbilisi.

Abazov has been detained for "abuse and inhumane treatment," while opposition United National Movement deputy Azer Suleymanov was charged with physical abuse. He cannot be detained because of his parliamentary immunity, Tsiklauri said.

Two others have also been charged, including a relative of Abazov.

"As soon as they arrived [at the protest], Abazov spat at Alakhverdiev, forced him to turn on Facebook Live, and verbally abuse [Abazov's]...wife. Then Abazov forced the man to urinate in a glass and wash his face with it," the prosecutor's office said.

After the Facebook video went viral, the incident caught the attention of authorities in Tbilisi.

Parliament speaker Irakli Kobakhidze has sent a letter to acting Prosecutor-General Mamuka Vasadze, encouraging him to fully investigate the charges, regardless of the party affiliation or political position of anyone involved.

"It is necessary to punish each participant of the incident," Kobakhidze said in the letter.

Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze, who is a member of the ruling Georgian Dream party, also commented on the incident, saying that anyone involved must be held accountable for their actions regardless of which party they represent.

It's not the first time Abazov, who faces five to 10 years in prison if convicted, has been in hot water.

In November 2017, he was accused of sexism over remarks he made at a public meeting.

Georgia's ombudsman rebuked Abazov for the comments and asked him to promote gender equality in the region.

Marneuli is a small city of about 20,000 residents, located about 40 kilometers south of Tbilisi.