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27 Jul 2023

Statement of the Special Investigation Service on the ongoing investigation into the arrest of Lasha Zhgenti

We would like to respond to some media false reports and inform the public about the midterm results of the ongoing investigation on the arrest of citizen Lasha Zhgenti on July 20, 2023, on Gogebashvili Street in Tbilisi.
On July 21, 2023, based on the report of the mother of Lasha Zhgenti, citizen Khatuna Gamtsemlidze, on the illegal actions against her children by the police officers, the Special Investigation Service launched the investigation into the fact of exceeding the official power with the signs of the crime provided for by subparagraph "b" of part 3 of Article 333 of the Criminal Code of Georgia.
From the beginning of the investigation to the present day, within a short period, the Special Investigation Service carried out necessary and urgent investigative actions on the case, including obtaining video camera recordings of the incident and interviewing neutral witnesses of the fact.
Six persons present at the place of arrest and witnesses of the incident were interviewed, who indicated that they did not see the fact of violence from the law enforcement officers.
The video case materials taken by one of the person’s mobile at the place of arrest and from the private organization’s cameras were obtained. The analysis of the records established that police officers stop three men walking on Gogebashvili Street and started a superficial examination of one of them after the conversation. The mentioned man didn't allow the police officers to carry out the inspection completely and resisted them, after this the law enforcement officers started arresting and taking him to the car. The policemen are prevented from transporting the detainee to the car by an elderly lady who came to the place and started physical contact with the policemen. The fact of physical violence of the police officers is not recorded.
The investigation interviewed 4 employees of the Old Tbilisi Police Department who presented and participated in the arrest of Lasha Zhgenti. It was explained that 3 young men were stopped and asked about their identity near #30 Gogebashvili Street. The behavior of one of them - Lasha Zghenti was considered suspicious, and with his consent, police officers started conducting a police measure - surface inspection and examination. During the inspection, Lasha Zghenti resisted and verbally insulted the policemen, on the basis that they started arresting him administratively. During the arresting and putting in the car, the companions and grandmother of Lasha Zhgenti - Gulnazi Zhgenti resisted the police officers. Gulnazi Zghenti sat at the wheel of the police car and did not allow them to arrest the grandchildren. According to the police, finally, as a result of the proportional measures used, they managed to escort Lasha Zghenti to the building of the Police Unit. The police officers explained that there was no physical violence, verbal abuse, and/or other illegal action against the detainee and/or another person.
Lasha and Luka Zghenti passed a medical examination, through personal presentation to an expert in the LEPL Levan Samkharauli National Forensic Bureau. At this stage, the examination results have not been received.
A medical examination was also conducted on the grandmother of the detainee, Gulnazi Zghenti, who also participated in the arrest incident and had injuries on her body. Regarding the injuries, she explained to the investigation that she received injuries on his body because of his resistance to the police officers.
The above-mentioned obtained evidence does not provide a basis for exposing and setting law enforcement officers' responsibility.
The Special Investigation Service continues the intensive investigation of the case to create an objective picture and to make a final, fair, and summary decision. If evidence confirming the crime of any law enforcement officer is found in the case, the agency will take the appropriate legal decision.
From the very first days of the investigation, Lasha Zghenti and his family members as potential victims were allowed full access to the case materials to involve them in the investigation process, to be informed and to make the investigation transparent.
The Special Investigation Service will provide additional information to the public regarding the results of the investigation.
We urge the media not to spread unverified and false information that serves to mislead the public.