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Tbilisi drops charges against RIA Novosti bureau chief

RIA Novosti

20:03 19/09/2009 TBILISI, September 19 (RIA Novosti) - Georgian authorities dropped criminal charges on Saturday against RIA Novosti's Tbilisi bureau chief Besik Pipia, the journalist himself and his lawyer Levan Buadze announced.

Pipia was under a travel ban in Georgia on suspicion of falsely altering his driving license in a case his lawyers say is totally without merit. He could have got up to three years in prison if he had been convicted.

"The prosecutor of the city of Rustavi, Nugzar Makhatadze, summoned me today to hand in a resolution cancelling criminal charges over the absence of crime. Justice has triumphed!" Pipia said. He also thanked all his supporters.

RIA Novosti's chief editor earlier described the case as totally unwarranted and groundless. "The decision by Georgian law enforcement agencies with respect to Besik Pipia is unjustified and illegal," Svetlana Mironyuk said on Wednesday, adding that it must be dropped.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent nonprofit organization based in New York, urged Georgia's authorities on Friday to drop criminal charges against the Russian journalist.

Georgian lawyer Gia Meparishvili said earlier Pipia had done no wrong and that an incorrect entry in his driving license had been made by an Interior Ministry official in Georgia in 1991.


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