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Controversial verdict in murder case of two teenagers catalyzes demonstrations against corruption, which have already rattled the upper echelons of power.6 June 2018
Protesters in Georgia are asking for the government’s resignation amid widespread disapproval of a verdict in the case of a murder of two teenagers, RFE/RL reports.
One the people leading the protests, Zaza Saralidze, is the father of Davit Saralidze, who, along with fellow teenager Levan Dadunashvili, was killed in a brawl between students from different schools last December.
Two defendants were handed prison sentences of 10 years and nine years on 1 June, with one of them charged with murder and the other, attempted murder. However, the investigation was marred by allegations of misconduct since the beginning, with CCTV footage showing the father of one of the defendants, who was a high-ranking employee in the Prosecutor’s Office, destroying evidence at the crime scene, OC Media reports.
“The system should be destroyed," said Zaza Saralidze after meeting with Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili.
Additionally, RFE notes, Saralidze, along with other protesters, believe that additional people complicit in the murders had escaped justice as a result of their connections in the Prosecutor’s Office.
"We are against injustice. We are against the arbitrariness of the authorities and the rotten political system, which must collapse," Saralidze told the protesters on 1 June, according to another RFE article.
Irakly Shotadze, Georgia’s chief prosecutor, resigned on 31 May in the aftermath of mass demonstrations, Civil.ge writes. At the time, he released a statement saying that the Prosecutor’s Office had done everything it could to hold the perpetrators of the murders accountable. “Fair justice is extremely important, especially when it relates to the murder of teenagers,” the statement read.
Initially, the protests called for the immediate resignation of Shotadze amid widespread anger over the verdict. That quickly led to demands for the entire government to step down.
“Shotadze’s resignation is not enough,” Saralidze said, according to RFE. “Others [prosecutors] should resign, and all of them should be brought to trial.”
Kvirikashvili has refused to quit so far, and ordered another investigation into the killing, RFE reports.
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