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Human rights organizations call on the President of Georgia to pardon Archbishop Giorgi Mamaladze

11.02.2019

Human rights organizations react to the criminal case against the Archbishop Giorgi Mamaladze and the violation of his fundamental right to fair trial; we call on the President of Georgia to pardon him. 

The case law of the common courts of Georgia and clarifications of the convicted person and his lawyers demonstrate that substantial procedural and material-legal standards were violated in the case; more precisely: 

Substantial and urgently important evidence in the criminal case were obtained through brutal violation of the law and human rights standards, which raised questions over the validity and trustworthiness of the most important evidence (subject of offence). Namely, G. Mamaladze was arrested in the Tbilisi International Airport after he passed through the passport control and handed the baggage. The investigative body withdrew his baggage in the absence of the owner and without video-surveillance. The detainee received his baggage only about nine hours after the detention. Obtaining the key evidence of the case in similar conditions and with similar methods raise questions about the legality of the judgment.
During the case examination, the rule to share the burden of proof was substantially violated. In the judgments, the court clearly indicate at the obligation of the defense side to present evidence to justify the accused person while the law imposes the burden of proof over the prosecutor’s office. The court fully ignored the share of the burden of proof in the criminal case against G. Mamaladze and instead examination of the evidence presented by the prosecutor, it confirms the guiltiness of the defendant beyond the reasonable doubt, and argues whether the defense side presented any evidence in support of the defendant. 
Principle of publicity of court hearings were violated, which significantly reduced the public control over the case. Namely, both instances of the court made decisions to close the court hearings into the case without any grounds and in contradiction to the law. At the same time, the prosecutor’s office restricted the right of the defense lawyers to provide the society with the information about legal proceedings from the very beginning of the process; the lawyers had to sign non-disclosure agreements with the prosecutor’s office. 
Beyond procedural violations, the issue of legal assessment and qualification of the unverified charge brought against G. Mamaladze is also problematic. In accordance to the Article 18 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, “intentional creation of conditions for committing a crime shall be considered preparation of a crime.” The conditions for committing a crime include “searching the information, intention of criminal action and more.” It is important that the law-maker pays attention to the conditions for committing a crime rather than on the creation of conditions that means it is necessary to determine unity of all conditions for similar qualification. The judgments against G. Mamaladze pay attention on one condition instead on the unity of conditions. Namely, the judgments rely on the allegation that G. Mamaladze was looking for the subject of crime in internet and does not verify the necessary element for the preparation of the crime – presence of intention. 
From the very first days, senior government officials violated presumption of innocence was violated with regard to Giorgi Mamaladze, by which they created public opinion about the guiltiness of the archbishop before passing the verdict. 

In the light of all abovementioned violations, the under-signatory organizations believe that the judgments passed over Giorgi Mamakadze’s case do not meet the standards of well-grounded judgments. The substantial and crucial evidence in the case was obtained through te violation of the national legislation and human rights standards that in general violates G. Mamaladze’s right to fair trial. 

Independence and impartiality of the judiciary system is usually measured with the judgments passed over high-profile cases, where there is high political interest. Unfortunately, the domestic courts failed the test on impartiality and compliance to human rights standards in this case. In similar situation, we believe it is important that the President of Georgia used her constitutional authority and pardoned him to eradicate grave results of unfair justice and breached human rights. 

Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC)
Article 42 of the Constitution
Human Rights Center
Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI)
Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association 
Transparency International – Georgia (TI)
Partnership for Human Rights (PHR)
Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI)

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