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10 Jul 2023

Statement of the Special Investigation Service on the “Mtavari Arkhi” Report


We would like to provide information to the public regarding the“Mtavari Arkhi” report broadcast on July 9, 2023. In this report, to discredit the service, several false statements were made about activities and current cases of the Service.


Furthermore,the journalist intentionally tells a falsehood to dramatize the situation and discredit the Service during the monologue. The Journalist claims that the indifference of the police towards the Pride events and the violation of the right to assembly and expression, as criminal cases, should be investigated by the Special Investigation Service. However, it is important to note that these crimes, if they occurred, would not fall under the investigative mandate of the Service according to the law.


In the story, the conversation concerned an ongoing case involving the unauthorized surveillance and recording of private conversations among Mtavari TVjournalists about which many deliberate lies were told. Specifically, false claims were made that the Service had only initiated an investigation and conducted interviews with the journalists, without undertaking any further investigative actions. This included the absence of record requests, the appointment of expertise, and the retrieval of video camera recordings. In connection with the incident that occurred in 2021, despite the considerable amount of time that has passed, all necessary investigative and procedural actions have been carried out. These actions were conducted with the consent of “Mtavari Arkhi”, involving specialists thoroughly inspecting the newsroom of the program "Post Factum”. No recording device was observed or discovered during the inspection. Additionally, an audio recording relevant to the investigation was requested, and a comprehensive examination involving video, audio, and IT expertise was appointed at the LEPL Levan Samkharauli National Forensics Bureau. Furthermore, the investigation made efforts to retrieve video camera footage from the memory card transfer, and this footage has been included as evidence in the case.


As for the second case in the story, which concerns the fact of possible violence committed by the law enforcement officers against the citizen Irakli Miladze, where the respondent mentioned that the investigation did nothing to investigate his injury, it is not true and the mentioned false information was another fake of the story. Irakli Miladze refused to appear before the medical expert because he did not have any signs of injury. Due to the aforementioned, in connection with the injuries on the body of Irakli Miladze, a medical examination was appointed on the medical documentation removed from the temporary detention isolator. The report of the medical examination is presented in the case.


Another deliberate lie was when the respondent, Eduard Marikashvili, while talking about the Service's annual report, allegedly said that no law enforcement officer has been charged with ill-treatment, while as a result of one year of work, criminal prosecution was initiated and accordingly, 31 law enforcement officers were revealed by the Special Investigation Service. From which 8 facts were related to the facts of ill-treatment. It should be mentioned that the mentioned result in terms of opening the facts of ill-treatment is 100% higher than the result of the predecessor service for the whole year of 2020 and 33% higher than the results of 2021.


Regarding the investigation into the crimes committed against journalists, which was represented in the story as if the investigation was incapable or unwilling to address the issue, it is important to clarify that during a year, investigations were initiated into 12 criminal cases related to these incidents and 8 individuals have been revealed including two persons involved in interference with “Mtavari Arkhi”’s journalists professional activities.


The report also mentioned that the Service failed to include specific criminal cases in its annual report. However, it is important to note that according to Article 12, Part 2 of the Law of Georgia "On Special Investigation Service," the annual report is not required to contain information regarding specific criminal cases or their specific circumstances. Despite this clear legal requirement, the journalist either attempted to mislead the public by spreading falsehoods or demonstrated a lack of understanding of the law. It is worth emphasizing that throughout the year, the Service provided numerous clarifications regarding specific criminal cases through 50 official statements, 8 briefings, and various TV comments.


The journalist also mentions the episode of Zaza Bighiashvili losing his eye during protests of March 7-9 during the monologue and points out that the Service could not find out anything about this case, while if the journalist had contacted the investigation service instead of spreading false information, he would have learned that the video recording of the injury to the eye had already been obtained by the investigation. It was presented to Mr. Zaza Bighiashvili and his lawyer, and further investigative actions were planned. The ongoing investigation in the Special Investigation Service on the March 7-9 Rally is complex and large-scale, the investigation process is open and transparent, and stakeholders are involved in it. The Service provided detailed information about the investigation and related challenges to the media ombudsman and non-governmental organizations at a meeting held on July 7.


It is significant that the representative of the “Mtavari Arkhi” neither contacted nor sought clarification from the InvestigationService regarding the cases mentioned in the Report. This suggests that their primary intention was to discredit the service and mislead the public by spreading fake/false information.


We strongly urge the mentioned media to responsibly address any relevant questions or concerns directly to the Special Investigation Service before disseminating unverified or false information.


One of the main priorities of the Service is accountability to the public, that's why the Service attaches special importance to providing correct and evidence-based information to stakeholders.