Thursday, June 17, 2021
Times of Georgia
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Witnesses say police used disproportionate force to detain Namakhvani protester

Police detained Irakli Mukbaniani, a protester against the construction of the Namakhvani hydro power plant (HPP) using disproportionate force, witnesses say. 

Mukbaniani was detained in the village of Sakulia in western Georgian region of Imereti for assaulting a police officer during a demonstration in another village a couple of days ago. 

Besik Mukbaniani told journalists following his brother’s detention that several civilians have been injured during the police operation. 

Police used disproportionate force… There was no need to bring the special tasks groups into the village”, Besik Mukbaniani said. 

The Georgian Interior Ministry has also reported about Mukbaniani’s detention ‘upon the court decision’ earlier today. 

It said that on May 29 Mukbaniani ‘attacked and physically assaulted a police officer’ during a protest rally against the construction of Namakhvani HPP in Gumati.

During the arrest of I.M., local residents showed resistance against the police officers after which the police used coercive measures in accordance with the law”, the ministry said. 

It later provided additional information about the special operation in a separate statement ‘due to the high public interest’, saying that locals had restricted the movement, attempted to release the detainee and to seize the police weapon. 

At the same time, locals threw stones and other objects at police officers, as a result of which two officers received health injuries”, the statement reads. 

It further says that police fired warning shots ‘to de-escalate the situation and defuse the confrontation’.

Varlam Goletiani, the leader of Rioni Gorge Defenders civic movement says Mukbaniani’s detention is a provocation staged by the state officials . 

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