Police conduct illegal search of Tabula reporter, destroy filmed video

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Today, some five police officers made a journalist of Tabula, Giorgi Sikharulidze, get off his car, abused him verbally and deleted a video material from his mobile phone, which he filmed minutes before. This incident happened on the Kostava Street at about 08:15 p.m., on 24 August.

Having stepped out of the building of Tabula TV Company, Giorgi Sikharulidze noticed up to five patrol police cars in the vicinity. The police officers had several persons detained. The Tabula journalist got into his car, filmed the scene with his mobile phone camera and drove away. Having driven some 100 meters, five police officers, who got off a black Škoda car, stopped him. Without presenting their ID cards, the police officers searched and verbally abused Giorgi Sikharulidze. Thereafter, they took the journalist's mobile phone and deleted the video material which he had filmed. The police officers threatened Sikharulidze with seizing his mobile phone. Deleting the filmed material they told Sikharulidze: "You wanted to release it on the Internet and then ridicule us, didn't you?"

After the incident ended, Giorgi Sikharulidze told the police officers that he is a journalist. Sikharulidze did not disclose his profession from the beginning because he wanted to observe how the police treat citizens in such cases because the instances of stopping and searching citizens without providing them with any explanation have become frequent in recent times. After the law enforcement officers learned about Sikharulidze's profession and his working place, they derisively advised him to carry press card with him in future.

It is worth noting that stopping and searching Giorgi Sikharulidze as well as deleting filmed material from his mobile phone was carried out in violation of the requirements of the law on police. Namely, a police officer is obliged to introduce himself to a person whom he/she stops. The police officers who stopped Sikharulidze did not do that. Moreover, a police officer shall show a document certifying his/her powers to a person whom he/she stops, shall explain a legal ground of stopping that person and also the right of that person to challenge that ground. This did not take place in the case of Sikharulidze either. The Tabula TV Company addresses the Minister of Internal Affairs Irakli Garibashvili to immediately investigate the fact of illegal searching, verbally abusing journalist Giorgi Sikharulidze and deleting filmed material from his mobile phone and to punish offenders accordingly.

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