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Statement on So-called Cyanide Case Verdict

06.09.2017

 
ombudsman.ge 

The Public Defender is echoing the verdict delivered in the so-called cyanide case and considers that the guilty verdict does not serve justice.

The Public Defender confirms his respect for the court, as the main institution of judiciary. At the same time, considering his constitutional mandate, the Public Defender considers it necessary to inform the public of the main results of the continuous monitoring of the case over 7 months.

The monitoring made it clear that the violations during the investigation affected the court hearing and prevented the defendant and his lawyers from enjoying proper defense. Violation of the presumption of innocence and the right of equality of arms from the very first day of the investigation was only the beginning of a number of shortcomings.

Taking into consideration this context, it was even more unacceptable to fully close the trial, which deprived the public of the possibility to monitor the court hearings. The monitoring made it clear that the full closure of the trial was not necessary given the volume of the confidential information in the case.

The study of the case materials and analysis of the information obtained during the court hearings revealed a number of significant violations. The Public Defender's Office will wait for the publication of the motivation of the judgment, although it can be directly said that there were violations, which caused evident and irreparable damage to a fair trial.

Tbilisi City Court and Court of Appeals restricted the access of the defense to the luggage seized at Tbilisi International Airport and the video footage showing the detention.  It is incomprehensible which personal data the court was trying to protect, when the trial was completely closed and the lawyers had signed a document that banned them from disclosing the case materials. In addition, it is unclear why the personal data protection was a superior interest than the right to a fair trial in the given case, while the Personal Data Protection Act does not apply to data processing in the court.

It is noteworthy that neither the prosecution obtained the airport camera recordings.  The Prosecutor's Office provided a video recording of secondary procedural actions, while the legality of major actions remained under question. As a result, it became impossible to obtain objective evidence in relation to the issue of decisive importance in the case. This problem was further exacerbated by the fact that some inconsistencies were discovered in the testimonies of the people present at the airport.

It is noteworthy that the investigative agency has not obtained any evidence proving the purchase of cyanide. Neither the person, from whom the archpriest bought cyanide, has been identified. The artificially separated investigation into the purchase of cyanide is still pending.

It is unfortunate that the prosecution did not conduct a number of examinations, which would provide neutral proofs and would verify the version of the defense. The Prosecutor's Office has not answered a question of why dactyloscopic or genetic expertise was not conducted in relation to a seized box, especially given that the defendant had been denying the possession of the box from the very beginning. The explanation of the prosecution of why physical-technical expertise was appointed in relation to the seized firearms, after which it would be impossible to conduct dactyloscopic or genetic expertise, is not persuasive either.

The Public Defender will get acquainted with the motivation of the verdict in the nearest future in order to make clear what evidence was considered by the judge and what information served as major basis for delivering the judgment. The Public Defender's Office will continue to monitor the Giorgi Mamaladze case in the higher instance. Complete information about the progress of the case and the violations in it will be reviewed in a special report which will be available for the public in the nearest future.

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