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Controversial investigation dropped against Birja Mafia rap duo

18 December 2017
Birja Mafia (YouTube)

An investigation into Georgian rap duo Birja Mafia, whose members faced life imprisonment on drug charges they claimed were bogus, has been halted ‘due to lack of evidence’.

Giorgi Keburia, 21, who goes under the stage name Kay G, said at a press-conference on 18 December he was happy that his ‘innocence was proven’.

The Prosecutor’s Office said on 18 December they could not obtain evidence that would prove them guilty.

Keburia and his partner, Mishka Mgaloblishvili, 28, who goes under the stage name Young Mic, were caught by police allegedly carrying MDMA on 6 June. They were released on bail six days later amid large protests in Tbilisi.

The duo were charged for ‘illegally purchasing and holding especially large amounts’ of the recreational psychoactive drug, MDMA.

[Read on OC Media: Georgia’s ‘war against the people’ and the war against a ‘system that stinks’]

The performers claimed police had planted drugs on them, and that they were arrested in retaliation for a music video they had released depicting a police officer as a dog.

Police accused them of carrying 1.5 and 2.3 grammes of MDMA respectively. If convicted, the pair faced sentences of either 8–20 years or life in prison.

Gigi Mosiashvili, Keburia’s lawyer, reiterated at the press-conference that the defence still believes the duo were detained because of the music video they released, which the lawyer said could have been ‘misinterpreted’ as being insulting to police. The satirical video depicted a policeman on his hands and knees at the feet of the rappers, on a dog leash.

Keburia claimed soon after his arrest that he was pressured by police into falsely pleading guilty. Georgia’s Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation into police abuse of power and fabricating evidence. After this, the Prosecutor’s Office also took over the case into the rap duo from the Interior Ministry, as is protocol.

Mosiashvili said an investigation into the actions of police is still ongoing, and he hopes for an objective investigation.

The case comes at a time when Georgia’s parliament is under pressure from activists to start discussing a draft law which would decriminalise drug use in the country. Every third prisoner in Georgia is serving time on drug-related charges.

[Read on OC Media: Hundreds demonstrate for drug decriminalisation in Georgia]

If the law were to pass, proponents say it would move drug policy away from a criminal justice approach, treating drug use instead as a public health issue.