Birja Mafia Case

Birja Mafia Rap Members Arrested for Possession; Relatives Say it was Planted

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Law enforcement agents in Georgia arrested two members of the satirical parody hip-hop group “Birja Mafia” in the evening of June 8th, on charges of purchasing and possessing large amounts of the drug MDMA.

The relatives of the two arrested men, however, strongly deny the drug possession allegations. They believe the hip-hop artists were arrested because of a Birja Mafia music video which shows a policeman tied up with a leash. In the video, the policeman on the leash is now blurred over.

According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, police searched Mikheil “Mishka” Mgaloblishvili, also known by his stage name “Young Mic,” and found 1.4965 grams of MDMA on his person. Giorgi Keburia, also known as “Kay G,” was found with 2.3342 grams of MDMA.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs has opened an investigation under Article 260 of the Criminal Code, part 6, for the purchase and possession of large amounts of illegal drugs.

If convicted, Mgaloblishvili and Keburia could face an 8-20 year prison sentence, or even a life sentence.

The President’s Parliamentary Secretary, Ana Dolidze, announced that the presidential administration will examine the case.

“Due to our recent history, we need to look closely at the situation of any accused individual if such case involves the limitation of human rights, especially in regards to violence and crackdowns,” Dolidze said.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs reports that Giorgi Keburia has admitted to the charges.

Mikheil Mgaloblishvili’s trial was held at 16:00 at Tbilisi City Court today. Mgaloblishvili denied the charges against him and accused police of planting the drugs on him. He linked his detention to the Birja Mafia video where a policeman is seen on a leash and on all fours.

Mgaloblishvili told the court that when he was arrested, law enforcement agents told him that, "someone is annoyed and you will be punished for it. Anyone who represents police in such a manner will be punished." Mgaloblishvili says the law enforcement agents talked about his music video, confiscated his phone so that he could not contact anyone, and verbally and physically insulted him. Mgaloblishvili said he can identify the persons.

Mgaloblishvili also said he was pressured to take a drug test; that he was tested for various kinds of drugs, and that there were no signs of drugs in his blood.

Mgaloblishvili says he was made to sign a document pleading guilty, out of pressure and fear; he says he was promised to be released in three days in exchange for signing the document.

The defense requested a 50,000 dollar bail. Tbilisi City Court Judge Badri Shonia sentenced Mgaloblishvili to temporary detention as a ‘preventive measure,’ satisfying the solicitation of the Prosecutor's Office. According to the prosecution’s argument, "we have uncontrolled borders and he [Mgaloblishvili] can run away from the country.” The next trial is scheduled for June 27th.

Giorgi Keburia’s trial will be held separately, according to the MIA.

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