Afghan Mukhtarli in pre-Trial Detention, Georgian Authorities Respond to Kidnapping
The Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs, the State Border Service and the Prosecutor General’s Office have released statements concerning the case of Azerbaijani journalist Afghan Mukhtarli who was kidnapped on May 29.
Attorney General of Georgia Irakli Shotadze says he does not know how Mukhtarli was able to leave Georgia.
“I don’t know how he left the country. An investigation has begun, and all relevant investigative activities are being carried out”, said Shotadaze.
In turn, the Ombudsman of Georgia Ucha Nanuashvili believes that the law enforcement bodies of the country should immediately react effectively to the fact that the Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli has disappeared.
The statement of the Ombudsman of Georgia reads:
"As is known by the Public Defender of Georgia, on the evening of May 29 Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli, who resides in Tbilisi, disappeared. [...] His relatives say that recently Afghan Mukhtarli was being watched by unknown persons, and in connection with his disappearance the family has already appealed to the police.”
The Ministry of Internal Affairs also released a statement in connection with Mukhtarli’s abduction.
"In connection with the case of the Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli, an investigation has been launched under Article 143 of the Criminal Code, which implies unlawful suppression of freedom. At the same time, communication with the Azerbaijani side is being conducted, and the public will be informed in detail”, the statement said.
In turn, the head of the State Security Service of Georgia, Vakhtang Gomelauri, stated that Mukhtarli was detained on the so-called green border strip where a passport is not needed.
"The Ministry of Internal Affairs has initiated an investigation, appealed to the Azerbaijani side, and official statements will be made as to what happened and where he was detained. As the Azeri side says, he was detained at the crossing of the green border strip, and not by the checkpoint, that is, where he does not need a passport", Gomelauri said.
Afghan Mukhtarli has been placed in 3-month pre-trial detention and has been accused of illegally crossing the state border and of smuggling contraband.
According to his lawyer Elchin Sadiqov, an additional accusation has been lodged against him: resistance against a customs' officer.
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