Ombudsman of Georgia Ucha Nanuashvili believes that the investigation into the disappearance of Azerbaijani investigative journalist Afgan Mukhtarli will be ineffective due to the fact that employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs are being uncooperative.
The Ombudsman appealed to the Prosecutor General’s Office of Georgia with a proposal to take on the investigation of the Mukhtarli case.
“In order to convince the public that an honest investigation [is being conducted], the hierarchical or institutional links between investigators and investigative bodies should be excluded, which is guaranteed by the Constitution of Georgia and recognized by international standards,”
says the Ombudsman.
Representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the State Security Service (SSS) of Georgia have both denied the involvement of law enforcement agencies of the country in thе kidnapping of Mukhtarli.
Prime Minister of Georgia Georgi Kvirikashvili said that attempts to discredit state security institutions were ‘unacceptable’. He also stressed that he would not allow such attempts to damage the image of the country and its democratic values.
According to information released by local law enforcement, Mukhtarli was detained by officers of the State Border Service of Azerbaijan at 22:40 (local time) on May 29 in the Balakan district after allegedly illegally crossing the Azerbaijani border. At the time of his detention, Mukhtarli resisted police officers, say the authorities. During a search of his person, a sum exceeding $10,000 was found on him.
On May 31 Afgan Mukhtarli was placed in 3-month pretrial detention and has been accused of illegally crossing the state border (Article 318.1 of the Azerbaijani Criminal Code), smuggling contraband (206.1) and resisting the command of a customs’ officer (315.2).
Mukhtarli denies the charges. His lawyer Elchin Sadiqov states that Mukhtarli was kidnapped from Georgia and tortured.