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Violent Priest’s Case Withdrawn, Victim Calls the Trial a ‘Charade

Manager of the Georgian Bible Society, Mikhail Saralishvili, who was attacked by a mob led by Vasili Mkalavishvili, a violent True Orthodox priest in March 2001, has withdrawn from the criminal case. Showing his “disgust” at the trial of the priest that was under process at Tbilisi, Saralishvili said that the authorities didn’t take the case seriously. “I am disappointed by the behavior of the authorities”, he told Keston News Service. The Jehovah’s Witnesses as well as the Georgian Bible Society are angered and have stated that the authorities have intentionally been choosing the cases where the victims have suffered from little or no injuries.

Officer Manager, Mikhail Saralishvili of Georgian Bible Society, who was attacked in March 2001 by a mob led by violent Vasili Mkalavishvili, priest of True Orthodox, has withdrawn from the trial. He claimed that the authorities have intentionally been ignoring the case for so long and he knew the moment the case began that it was nothing but charade and mockery. His statement was supported by the Georgian Bible Society as well as Jehovah’s Witnesses. He showed his disappointment with the authorities stating that they had been neglecting the matter.

Talking to Keston News Service, Mikhail Saralishvili said that he had waited for the trail for over a year and now that the time for justice has come, authorities are being lenient. “For his three years reign of terror against the religious minorities, Mkalavishvili will get away with a 100 laris fine or at the most three months suspension sentence”. He added that had it been a proper trial, the priest would have been dealt with severely. The trial had begun on 25 January and resumed on 25 October in the District Court of Tbilisi named Didube-Chugureti. The charges faced by Mkalavishvil are under Criminal Code articles 120, 125, 155, 226 and 256.

Mikhail Saralishvili withdrew from the case on 29 October after presenting the reasons in front of the court. In a press conference he stated that although he has taken back the case, he hasn’t forgiven Vasili and in his view he is a “bandit”. Jehovah’s Witnesses’ leader, Gennady Gudadze said that the charges on Mkalavishvili in Saralishvili’s case were not that serious and he would get away with just a fine. However, he mentioned Jehovah’s Witnesses have suffered 138 attacks, 30 or more of them had been led by Mkalavishvili, with many of them ending in serious injuries, but the authorities have been picking the cases with minor injuries, intentionally.

Mikhail Saralishvili also brought to the notice another incident where Mkalavishvili’s mob raided a Baptist warehouse and burnt all the Bibles that belonged to the Bible Society. The criminal case on that has also been pending since then and no date for the trial has been announced as yet. Saralishvili said they were not going to withdraw from that case, especially because the video of the incident has been recorded and the case has drawn international attention, authorities won’t be able to get away with that for sure.

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