Author`s name Pravda.Ru

Russian peacekeepers hand over policemen arrested in South Ossetia

The Georgian policemen who were arrested in South Ossetia yesterday were handed over to Georgia's Interior Ministry.

Russian peacekeepers brought the released policemen to the Georgian village of Ergenti in the Tskhinvali district in two vehicles.

Georgian Interior Minister Irakly Okruashvili met them at the village.

However, three policemen are remaining in prison, according to Svyatoslav Nabzdorov, in command of the Russian peacekeeping contingent.

"Three policemen were left in prison as they have to answer law enforcers' questions," said Mr Nabzdorov.

Georgy Khaindrava, Georgia's state minister for separatist conflicts, went to Tskhinvali, South Ossetia's capital, along with Russian peacekeepers to inquire about the three arrestees' destiny.

Reporters were not allowed to talk to the released policemen.

The policemen will be taken to Tbilisi in buses, reports a RIA Novosti correspondent.

Georgian commandos took Ergenti under their control. They did not allow reporters to approach the released policemen.

However, some of the former detainees told reporters that they had been treated well in prison.

The Georgian interior minister said investigation into the legitimacy of the policemen's actions would be conducted as they had laid down arms and given themselves up to South Ossetian law enforcers.

"If they prove to have acted wrongfully, their superior will be punished," said Mr Okruashvili.

The Georgian authorities claim they know nothing about the other 12 men detained by South Ossetian law enforcers.

Mr. Khaindrava said the destiny of 12 men was not known.

"We have reached an agreement that all prisoners of war should be released. However, the relations and parents of some of them said they had not found their children among those released," said Mr. Khaindrava.

Georgia insists that 50 Georgian military men were arrested in South Ossetia.

However, Irina Gagloyeva, head of South Ossetia's Information and Press Committee, told RIA Novosti on the telephone that only 38 men had been arrested and she knew nothing about the 50 arrestees they were talking about.

South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity said at a press conference in Tskhinvali that the 3 policemen would not be freed as they had committed crimes on South Ossetian territory.

South Ossetian armed units appealed to Georgian policemen on their radio frequencies on Friday morning to lay down arms and prevent bloodshed.

"We suggest that you lay down arms and thereby spare your families persecution. Do not trust demagogues who are pushing you to war. You will not win that war," South Ossetians said in the appeal.

The tape was played on Georgian TV channels. Georgian police officials described the incident as a provocative act, reports the Novosti-Georgia agency.

Georgia's Rustavi-2 channel reported that Russian peacekeepers had placed an extra post on the Gori-Tskhinvali highway within the Georgian-Ossetian conflict zone dispatching a military unit and an armored personnel carrier there.

The post is located near the Marati village not far from the Megvrekisi village, according to Rustavi-2. Russian peacekeepers told the channel that the post was designed to check vehicles en route to and from South Ossetia for arms and ammunition.