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August 18, 2010 / joninews

Walt Whitman Street

Public Defender Tells Chief Prosecutor to Look into ‘Bush Street Protester’ Case


Public Defender called on the chief prosecutor to look into the case involving alleged mistreatment of an activist and a writer, Irakli Kakabadze, by the police after he was arrested on August 14.

Kakabadze and two others were arrested while holding a protest on George W. Bush street in Tbilisi, demanding renaming the street after 19th-century American poet Walt Whitman. The street was named after George Bush in 2005, after his visit to Georgia. The three protesters painted over the picture of the ex-president on the street banner and then started reading Whitman’s and their own verses, when the police arrived and arrested them.

The court released them after fining with GEL 400 each for disobedience to police orders. But video footage (see video link above) of the protest and the three protesters’ arrest shows that all three followed police officers into the police car without any resistance. Defense lawyers complained that judge refused to watch the video and took the decision without taking into consideration the evidence in favor of the protesters.

The Public Defender’s Office said in the statement that its representative, who visited Kakabadze in the detention center, observed injuries on his shoulder and arm, which, Kakabadze said, were inflicted by the police after the arrest. According to his account, he was “verbally and physically insulted” by chief of Tbilisi patrol police and his deputy in the yard of the Interior Ministry, where he was brought after the arrest. The Public Defender’s Office said that the fact of bodily injuries was also noted in a protocol of a detention center, compiled based on visual examination of the detainee.

The Public Defender’s Office said that the case contains “signs of crime”, which requires the chief prosecutor’s further reaction.


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