Chief Prosecutor: Detention of religious servants would be artificial

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Chief Prosecutor of Georgia Archil Kbilashvili told journalists on 4 June that the prosecution did not see a necessity to demand the pretrial detention of religious servants participating in the 17 May events.

On 17 May, a large group of religious activists, including priests, violently attacked a peaceful rally assembled to mark the International Day Against Homophobia. The attack left 28 people injured, including police officers.

"The necessity of detention depends on the character and possibilities of a concrete person – whether he/she can destroy evidence or flee the country, etcetera. In the given case none of such circumstances existed. Therefore, applying detention would be an artificial not a natural necessity," said Kbilashvili.

According to the Chief Prosecutor, the institution of criminal proceeding against religious servants is already a significant fact whilst the detention is of secondary importance:

"The investigation into the 17 May events continues. Two religious servants and two civilians have been charged with the infringement of the freedom of assembly and manifestation, envisaged under Article 161 of the Penal Code. That the criminal proceeding has been instituted against religious persons is such an important fact that it outweighs anything else. I cannot recall any other instance of the prosecutor's office taking such a decision in relation to religious servants; however, we have the practice of not applying detention against persons," Kbilashvili said.

The Interior Ministry of Georgia charged two religious servants, an archimandrite and a hegumen, on 23 May. A court hearing of that case is scheduled for 15 July.

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