Beating a Soldier Is Not a Crime?
22 November, 2012
Beating a Soldier Is Not a Crime?

National Movement views the facts of beating a soldier and an officer by the former Defense Minister Bacho Akhalaia and former Chief of United HQ Giorgi Kalandadze, as unworthy accusations.

The arrest of Giorgi Kalandadze led to the sharp criticism by the leaders of National Movement and President Saakashvili. They claim that this deed of the new Government delivered a heavy blow to the image of Georgian Army, which will deter the process of Georgia’s  accession  to the NATO.

Let us remind

our reader that Bacho Akhalaia and Giorgi Kalandadze were detained on accusations of insulting soldiers verbally and physically. Later on, General Kalandadze who had been released on bail, was subjected to a new accusation. This time he was summoned on possible soldier torture charges. Again, he was released on a new bail.

Have there really been systematic encroachments on dignity and violations of rights of privates, corporals, sergeants or senior officers in Georgian armed forces in recent years? Following the change of Government after the Parliamentary elections held on 1 October many harassed militaries became bolder and spoke out about the processes that have been underway in their respective units. If we really seek justice for the country, neither a ministerial post, nor stars on shoulders of generals should make anyone immune.

Protests of Nationalist Movement that the accusations of human rights violations in the armed forces are not serious should not be surprising. In contrast, the critical notes in the statement made by the NATO General Secretary shortly proved to be truly peculiar. Is not a violation of the army statute by someone even with general’s epaulettes punishable in any member state of the Alliance? Obviously, crimes in armies of NATO member states are not all that rare but they do incur punishment of culprits whatever their posts or titles.

So, why should the Georgian Army, seeking membership of the alliance, be any exception? On the other hand, it is really strange that official missions of the alliance, as well as other friendly states who actively cooperate with Georgian armed forces for years and are aware of the situation in the Georgian Army, have nevertheless never heard of verbal or physical prosecution of soldiers by some of their Georgian commanders and have not reported on the incidents to their respective countries? It is more likely that NATO has been aware of such incidents. If so, why are they so surprised about the prospects of fair criminal punishments?

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