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Human Rights Center monitored 25 court proceedings where alleged political motives are identified

28.12.2020

 
Since February 1, 2020, HRC carries out the monitoring of the court proceedings in the general courts of the cases with alleged political motives. Until the end of 2020, there were 25 cases under the monitoring of HRC, the court hearings for the part of the cases are now over.

1. The Case of Giorgi Ugulava (so called Case of the Tbilisi Development Fund). The Supreme Court of Georgia found Giorgi Ugulava the former Mayor of Tbilisi and one of the leaders of the Party European Georgia guilty in committing the offense provided for by articles 182(2)(d) and (3)(a)(b) of the Criminal Code of Georgia envisaging the unlawful appropriation or embezzlement of another person’s property or property rights by using official position.  By the Judgment of the Supreme Court from February 10, 2020, Giorgi Ugulava was sentenced to imprisonment with a term of 3 years, 2 months and 8 days. He was released from the prison based on the Act of Pardon of the President of Georgia from May 15, 2020. The case of Giorgi Ugulava was heard in the Supreme Court under the chairmanship of former Prosecutor General, Shalva Tadumadze. 

2. The Case of Giorgi Ugulava and Aleksandre Gogokhia. The criminal case launched against Giorgi Ugulava the former Mayor of Tbilisi is on the stage of hearing on the merits in Tbilisi City Court. The Prosecutor’s Office charged the accused persons with committing the offense under article 194 of the Criminal Code envisaging the legalization of illicit income (money laundering). Moreover, the state prosecution on the same case charged Ugulava with abuse of official power on the episode of the City Park and with the organisation of group action and with coercion on the episode of Marneuli. The case will be heard by judge Valerian Bugianashvili of Tbilisi City Court. 

3.  The Case of Giorgi Ugulava (so called Airport Case). In accordance with the decision by the Prosecutor's Office from December 11, 2019, Giorgi Ugulava is charged with committing the offense under article 126(1) of the Criminal Code of Georgia. According to the version of the prosecution, Giorgi Ugulava inflicted bodily harm to B.G. The defense on the contrary states that B.G. in a provocative manner assaulted Giorgi Ugulava and Giorgi Gabashvili, the leaders of European Georgia. The case is handed to Judge Badri Kochlamazashvili for hearing on the merits, but the hearings have not yet begun.

During the monitoring, HRC published an analytical document Legal Analysis of the Criminal Cases ongoing against Giorgi Ugulava.

4. The Case of Nikanor Melia. The former MP, Nikanor Melia is charged under article 225(1)(2) of the Criminal Code of Georgia meaning the organisation of acts of group violence acts and participation in the acts of group violence. The criminal case is linked with the protest demonstrations of June 20-21, 2019. 

HRC reviewed the criminal case ongoing against Nikanor Melia in the document Legal Analysis of the Criminal Cases related to the Events of June 20-21, 2019.

5. The Case of Nikanor Melia and Zurab Adeishvili. On the above criminal case the legal proceedings are going on in Tbilisi Court of Appeals. Nikanor Melia together with the former Minister of Justice Zurab Adeishvili is charged with the offense under article 332 of the Criminal Code envisaging the abuse of official power. Admittedly, Nikanor Melia was found innocent at the first instance of court for the charges under article 2051 of the Criminal Code envisaging concealment of property by means of fraudulent or sham transaction.

6. The Case of Irakli Okruashvili. The Leader of the party Victorious Georgia, Irakli Okruashvili was accused under article 225 of the Criminal Code related to the events of June 20-21, 2019 envisaging the organisation of group violence and participation in the violence. Under the Judgment from April 13, 2000, he was sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment as he was charged with the participation in the offense. Based on the Act or Pardon of the President, like Giorgi Ugulava Okruashvili also left the penitentiary institution on May 15, 2020. Notwithstanding the pardon, Okruashvili appealed the Judgment before Tbilisi Court of Appeals where the hearings on the case have not begun yet. In the Court of Appeals, judge Vepkhvia Lomidze will hear the case. 

7. The Case of Irakli Okruashvili and Zurab Adeishvili, the socalled case of Buta Robakidze. Irakli Okruashvili and Zurab Adeishvili are charged under article 332(3)(c) of the Criminal Code envisaging the abuse of power by a state political official. The case concerns the incident that took place near Didube  Pantheon in Tbilisi on November 24, 2004, when the police patrol stopped  a car of BMW brand with a driver and five passengers in the car. In the process of seizing and personal examination of the persons, one of the patrol officers, Grigol Basheleishvili accidentally triggered the weapon and shot on to the left  armpit of Amiran (Buta) Robakidze heavily wounding him causing his death at the scene. According to the prosecution decision, the information on the same night was reported to the Minister of Internal Affairs, Irakli Okruashvili, who instructed the high officials arriving to the scene that they had “to save the reputation of the patrol police” and to give the incident the appearance of an armed assault on the police officers. Further, according to the indictment, following the instructions of the then Prosecutor General of Georgia, Zurab Adeishvili, the investigation was conducted in legal terms in the wrong direction manifested in recording the falsified evidence and reaffirming the version designed by the high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Interior. Judge Lasha Chkhikvadze within Tbilisi City Court hears the case.   

During the monitoring, HRC published an analytical document Legal Assessments of the Criminal Cases ongoing against Irakli Okruashvili.

8. The Case of Koba Koshadze. The Case of Koba Koshadze, a member of the guard of Irakli Okruashvili, of the leader of the party Victorious Georgia was charged with an offense under article 236 of the Criminal Code envisaging illegal purchase, storage and carriage of firearms and ammunition. After the Prosecutor’s Office approached the court with a motion to change the measure of restraint, the court canceled the measure or restraint in the form of custody and remanded the accused on bail of GEL 5,000. Koshadze was released from the courtroom. 

HRC reviewed the criminal case ongoing against Koba Koshadze in the document Legal Assessments of the Criminal Cases ongoing against Irakli Okruashvili.

9. The Case of Giorgi Rurua. Giorgi Rurua, one of the founders and shareholders of TV company Mtavari Arkhi, and one of the organizers of the protest demonstrations of June 20-21, 2019, is charged under article 236(3)(4) of the Criminal Code (illegal purchase, storage and carriage of firearms); he was also charged under article 381(1) of the Criminal Code envisaging the failure to execute a court decision or interference with the execution of a court decision. On July 30, 2020, the judge of criminal panel of Tbilisi City Court, Valerian Bugianishvili rendered a judgment of conviction against Giorgi Rurua sentencing him to 4 years of imprisonment. The court found Giorgi Rurua guilty of both charges. The President of Georgia refuses to pardon the convict. The defense is filling an appeal against the judgment of the first instance court with Tbilisi Court of Appeals. 

During the monitoring, HRC published an analytical document The Criminal Case of Giorgi Rurua - Legal Analysis.

10. The Case of Mamuka Khazaradze, Badri Japaridze and Avtandil Tsereteli. Former Chairman of the Supervisory Council of TBC Bank, Mamuka Khazaradze and his deputy, Badri Japaridze (at the time being the leaders of the political organisation Lelo for Georgia) are charged under article 194(2)(a)(3)(c) of the Criminal Code envisaging the legalization of illicit income in large amounts carried out by an organized group. While the charges brought against the father of the owner of TV company TV Pirveli, Avtandil Tsereteli, implies the assistance in the legalization of illicit income (article 25 and article 194(2)(a)(3)(c) of the Criminal Code). The criminal case is on the stage of hearing on the merits in Tbilisi City Court. 

11. The Case of Nika Gvaramia. The founder of TV Company Mtavari Arkhi and the Director General of the same TV company, Nika Gvaramia, is charged under article 220 of the Criminal Code envisaging the abuse of managerial, representative or other special powers in an enterprise or other organisation against the lawful interests of this organisation for acquiring benefits or advantage for oneself or another person, which has resulted in considerable damage. 

During the monitoring, HRC published an analytical document Legal Assessments of the Criminal Case ongoing against Nika Gvaramia.

12. The case of Mikheil Saakashvili and Teimuraz Janashia. Ex-President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili and former chief of the State Security Service, Teimuraz Janashia, were charged under article 182(b) of the Criminal Code envisaging the unlawful appropriation or embezzlement of budgetary funds in large amounts (GEL 8,837,461) by an organized group. The criminal case is being heard on the merits by judge Badri Kochlamazashvili in Tbilisi City Court.

13. The Case of Mikheil Saakashvili, Ivane Merabishvili, Davit Kezerashvili and Gigi Ugulava. Against the Ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili a criminal proceeding are ongoing in Tbilisi City Court related to the mass dispersal of protesters, and invading and “taking over” a TV Company Imedi. Beside Mikheil Saakashvili, charges are brought against that time high officials: Ivane Merabishvili, Zurab Adeishvili, Davit Kezerashvili and Gigi Ugulava. Due to the complexity of the case, the case is being heard by a panel of judges in Tbilisi City Court. The court sessions are chaired by judge Nino Eleishvili.

14. The Case of Lasha Chkhartishvili. On June 20, 2020, Tbilisi City Court found one of the leaders of Labor Party, Lasha Chkhartishvili as an administrative offender under article 173 of the Code of Administrative Offenses and imposed on him a fine in the amount of GEL 3,500. Judge Manuchar Tsatsua rendered the decision in three court sessions. Chkhartishvili appealed the decision to Tbilisi Court of Appeals. The court hearing has not been scheduled so far. 

15. The Case of Besik Tamliani, Zurab Budaghashvili, Tsotne Soselia and Kakhaber Kupreishvili. Besik Tamliani, Zurab Budaghashvili, Tsotne Soselia and Kakhaber Kupreishvili are charged under article 225(2) of the Criminal Code of Georgia envisaging the participation in group violence accompanied by violence, raid, damage or destruction of another person’s property, use of arms, armed resistance to or assault on representatives of public authorities. On the given case a plea agreement was concluded between the Prosecutor’s Office and the accused persons: Zurab Budaghashvili, Tsotne Soselia and Kakhaber Kupreishvili. On March 23, 2020, the measure of restraint used against Besik Tamliani was changed with remand on bail of GEL 4,000. He left the prison. The hearing of the criminal case against Besik Tamliani will be resumed in Tbilisi City Court.
 
16. The Case of Bezhan Lortkipanidze. An employee of the public organization Nekresi, Bezhan Lortkipanidze was charged under article 225(2) of the Criminal Code envisaging the leadership, organization of and participation in the group violence. Bezhan Lortkipanidze does not plead guilty. The charges are related to the events of June 20-21, 2019. A field biologist and researcher of wild nature, Bezhan Lortkipanidze was arrested on June 20, 2019 and he was remanded in custody for 2 months. At the time being, the measure of restraint is changed to remand on bail. The court proceedings are not over yet.

17-18-19. The Cases of Former Officers of Special Forces. Levan Imerlishvili, Giorgi Esiashvili and Mindia Ambardnishvili are charged under article 333(3)(b) of the Criminal Code of Georgia envisaging the exceeding of the official powers by an official or a person equal thereto resulting the substantial violation of the rights of natural or legal persons, or of the lawful interests of the public or the State. The cases against the former officers of special forces are heard in Tbilisi City Court by several judges separately. 

20. The case of Giorgi Javakhishvili and Tornike Datashvili. The court found Giorgi Javakhishvili and Tornike Datashvili guilty under article 225(2) of the Criminal Code envisaging the leadership, organisation of and participation in a group violence. The above case was heard in the conjunction with the case of Irakli Okruashvili related to the events of June 20-21, 2019, however the case was split into separate proceedings and after the plea agreements were reached with the accused persons: Javakhishvili and Datashvili, they were released shortly afterwards.  

21. The Case of citizens detained near the building of Isani District Election Commission. HRC observed the administrative legal proceedings of 7 persons detained on November 4 at a protest rally in front of the premises of Isani District Election Commission under articles 166 and 173 of the Code of Administrative Offenses. According to the decision by the judge, the proceedings against only one of the 7 detainees were terminated. Only 3 persons were found to have committed offenses under article 173 of the Code, and 3 for both: articles 166 and 173 of the Code. One of them was subject to a sanction of 5 days of administrative detention, and the other 5 were subject to 3 days of detention. 

22. The case of Mikheil Todua (Mikhailo).  On December 25, 2013, under the judgment of Tbilisi City Court, Mikheil Todua was sentenced to 9 years of imprisonment. He was convicted of a drug offense, namely for the purchase, storage and use of club drugs. On October 11, 2019, the convict was commuted to house arrest for 2 years and 11 months. He was instructed to be at the place of residence from 21:00 to 08:00. On November 11, 2020, Tbilisi City Court heard a motion by Tbilisi Probation Bureau to lift the house arrest imposed on Mikheil Todua and to apply imprisonment towards Mikheil Todua on the grounds that he had violated the terms of house arrest and performed at a party organized by Girchi on October 17 at 22:00. Following the judgment rendered by the judge, the submission from the Probation Bureau regarding the use of imprisonment as a punishment was rejected. The Probation Bureau approached the court with an alternative request which was granted by the judge and Mikheil Todua was obliged to stay home from 19:00 to 08:00, instead of 21:00-08:00.

23. The case of "Shame" activists. On November 9, 2020, Alex Machavariani, Nodar Rukhadze and Giorgi Mzhavanadze, activists of ‘Shame’  were detained near the Parliament of Georgia during a rally of the United Opposition, which was to be organized by Shame starting from 22:00. The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) argues that the administrative offenders committed petty hooliganism and disobedience to the lawful request of a law enforcement officer being on duty or verbally abusing the officer. At the court proceedings held in Tbilisi City Court, the defense stated that no offense had been committed by any of the detainees. The arrests were of a preventive nature and there were no grounds for any of the arrests. All three detainees were found guilty of administrative offenses under the relevant articles of the Code of Georgia of Administrative Offenses.

24. The Case of Akaki Khuskivadze and Akaki Kobaladze. HRC studies the criminal case initiated against Akaki Khuskivadze and Akaki Kobaladze arrested and accused in connection with the death of the chairman of Isani District Election Commission and further observes the case hearings in the court. Akaki Khuskivadze and Akaki Kobaladze are charged with the criminal acts under articles 339(1), 150(2)(b), 151(2)(a) of the Criminal Code of Georgia meaning directly offering to an official money for his benefit, in order that he take a certain action during the exercise of his official rights and performance of duties for the benefit of the bribe-giver, further a threat of damaging health, when the person threatened began to have a reasonable sensation of fear that the threat will be carried out, the act committed by a group of persons, i.e. coercing him mentally to perform an action abstaining from the performance of which is his right, the act committed by a group of persons. Moreover, Akaki Kobaladze is accused of illegal purchase and storage of ammunitions, the offense provided for by article 236(3) of the Criminal Code of Georgia. On December 10, 2020, Tbilisi City Court remanded the detainees on bail. They had to pay each GEL 10,000 in bail.

25. The case of Iveri Melashvili and Natalia Ilychova (so-called cartographers case). The HRC monitors are monitoring the criminal case of Iveri Melashvili and Natalia Ilychova. They are charged under article 308(1) of the Criminal Code meaning an action against Georgia aimed at transferring the entire territory or part of Georgia to a foreign country or separating part of Georgia from the territory of Georgia. On October 8, at the court proceedings in Tbilisi City Court, the accused were remanded in custody as a measure of restraint. On November 30, 2020, a hearing was held on the case of the accused in Tbilisi City Court reviewing the change in the measure of restraint. The court did not take into account the evidence presented by the defense, nor the fact that more than 200 persons were ready to stand as a surety in order the accused to be released. Despite the fact, the court remanded Natalia Ilychova and Iveri Melashvili again in custody. 

During the monitoring, HRC analyzed the criminal cases related to the events of June 20-21, 2019 in the document Legal Analysis of the  Criminal Cases connected with the Events of June 20-21, 2019.

Furthermore, during the monitoring, HRC published Monitoring the Court Proceedings of the Cases with alleged Political Motives - Interim Report, 2020.

HRC monitors the criminal cases that are allegedly politically motivated in the general courts of Georgia within the frames of the project Public Events Monitoring. The project also presupposes the monitoring of protest assemblies. The project is supported by National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

Opinions expressed in the press release are of HRC and do not necessarily represent those of the donor. Therefore, NED is not responsible for the content of the text laid here.

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