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When masks of saints fall off2009-12-03 18:04
The facts Georgia had been concealing were uncovered yesterday. Five detained Ossetians who were released from prison were transferred to South Ossetia. The hostages (see photo) uncommented by the Georgian Interior Ministry for a long time were brought back by Thomas Hammarberg, High Commissioner for Human Rights in Europe. In return everyone expected the Ossetian trial would be good to the Georgian teens accused of storage of explosives. Tskhinval released two teenagers promising to set the rest of them free in 10 days' time.
Georgia is in a bit of a shock: the exchange mediated by the European commissioner was unequal. Gori police released five Ossetians while only two Georgians came back home.
Georgy Romelashvili and Aleko Tsabadze, both underage teens, were sentenced to a one-year conditional sentence and released in the court room. The other two - Levan Khmiadashvili and Viktor Buchukuri were sentenced to one-year imprisonment.
Tirdznisi school boys are charged with crossing the state border and storing explosives. The inquiry revealed the fellows were detained on their way to relatives living in Kheiti village. They indicated the storage place close to the village where they had hidden a sack of food. But only hand grenades and trotyl were found in it. The boys stated they had carried only the food and don't know the origin of the explosives.
During the trial the accused admitted border crossing only. As Romelashvili's relatives in Tskhinval assert they did it to flee the Georgian law-enforcement bodies for having beaten a policeman, Osradio specifies.
In Gori police office released Georgy and Aleko also said that the grenades had been foisted to their bags by Russian militaries during arrest. A different version was not even considered in Georgia since Georgian law enforcers do that to clap radical opposition figures, national minority leaders and Russians suspected of espionage in prison.
Before the trial Thomas Hammarberg, Europe's High Commissioner for Human Rights pressed by the Georgians tried to set the teenagers free from the Ossetian jail promising to take any verdict for granted. "There will be a court ruling that will show its independence from political factors. And I respect that", - he said.
However the judge's verdict puzzled Hammarberg. At first he even refused to go back to Georgia without the rest of the group.
"This will contribute to hostility toward South Ossetia. Give me a chance, I'm ready to work. If you get in my way I will be unable to do anything. I'm one of those few Europeans that understand your problems", - were the words of the man who had brought five Ossetians back and had a promise of Gori prosecutor to investigate into the case of missing Ossetian men (Khachirov, Pliev and Khugaev).
But the Ossetians lost trust in Europeans and especially in Georgians long ago. As RSO Plenipotentiary Boris Chochiev noted Georgia should first fulfill its promise - to release the condemned to life sentence, as Givi Targamadze promised exchanging hostages immediately after the August war. Taking his compatriots back from captivity he simply switched off his cell phone, the Ossetian official remarked.
Chochiev also highlighted that Mikheil Saakashvili had had a chance to remit Ossetians on Giorgoba holiday but there was no Ossetian name among 50 lucky men.