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Information about Political Prisoners

13.02.2008
In Georgia 26 people are currently under arrest for political grounds and criminal proceedings have been instigated against an additional 9.

Seven people, those who participated in the terrorist act on February 8 1998, an attempted assignation of former president Edward Shevardnadze, are not considered as political prisoners.  As a result, these inmates are not considered as being qualified, and their petitions will not be considered among those to be pardoned. 

Former public officials (five in total), have been arrested under Georgian Criminal Code, Article 180 (financial crime); Article 181 (extortion), Article 182 (misappropriation and wasting of state budgetary funds and Article 332 (abusing one’s power).

Criminal liability has been imposed on the above-mentioned petitioners months and even years after they resigned from their former positions, and in some instances there is a connection with the famous events on-going during October-November of 2007 in Georgia (allegations of the GOG being responsible for state-sponsored murder of Zurab Zhvania, former Prime Minister and the resulting street protests over various political events and the call for early parliamentary elections. Affected persons are as follows:

1. Bidzina Giorgobiani;
2. Shalva Ramishvili
, director of the TV Company “202”;
3. Dimitri Godabrelidze, was detained on November 27 2007 because of his illegal activities while working in the Marneuli District Agricultural Department dating to 2003;
4. Irakli Okruashvili; former Georgian Defense Minister;
5. Davit Kantaria; arrested on August 23 2007, for his illegal activities in 2002-2003 while he served as the Mayor of Poti;
6. Mikheil Kareli; former Governor of Shida Kartli Region;
7. Marlen Nadirdze; arrested on November 6 2007; for his illegal activities while working as a deputy Governor of Shida Kartli Region; he was blamed for having accepting a bribe and stealing two TV sets from a regional shop..

Participants of the November 7 protest demonstration were charged under Georgian Criminal Code, Article 187 (damaging or destroying property), article 353 (resistance, threatening or violence against the law enforcers and public officials).

8. Zaal Kochladze, arrested on November 8;
9. Levan Barabadze, arrested on November 10;
10. Levan Minashvili, arrested on November 19;
11. Ilia Tsurtsumia, arrested on November 13;
12. Rostom Oniani, arrested November 9.

Participants of the November 7 protest demonstration, who resisted the riot policemen were charged under the Criminal Code Article 225 (public disorder). The following people are charged for the crime:

However, in parallel to the events of this date, no police were arrested, as brutal and unjustified force was used in dispersing a peaceful demonstration on four occasions on November 7 2007.

13. Davit Maghlakelidze;
14. Lasha Sirbiladze;
15. Ilia Koiava;
16. Zviad Khargelia
.

Investigation against the leaders of the united opposition is launched under the Georgian Criminal Code, Article 225 and 315 (causing public disorder, plotting or rebelling against the constitutional authority and to use force in illegally replacing that authority. 

The above-mentioned accusation against opposition leaders was announced by Nika Gvaramia, former Deputy Prosecutor General of Georgia during the Declared State of Emergency. Consequently, the below stated people were interrogated under the defined status of witnesses. Currently, they have not charged under the law, however, the investigation continues.

Apart the recordings of the over-phone conversations, which were broadcast on TV, there is no convincing evidence or documented events that could be used against opposition leaders. The European Parliament and other influential international actors have assessed the government’s accusations against opposition leaders as being on the so-called “Russian Track” as merely political speculation.

Personal phone-conversations were recorded starting from 2005 and running to February of 2007. A criminal investigation was launched in autumn of 2007 and this was in parallel to protests and demonstrations in Tbilisi.

The following people were charged for the above-mentioned crime:

17. Giorgi Khaidrava, leader of the united opposition;
18. Levan Berdzenishvili, member of the republic Party;
19. Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, political party “Tavisfuleba”;
20. Shalva Natelashvili; leader of the Labor Party.

Georgian Criminal Code, Article 239 (hooliganism)

21. Givi Makharashvili, was detained on January 13 during an argument with the representatives of the National Movement, following the announcement of the results of the snap presidential elections.

Georgian Criminal Code Article 236 and 260 (purchase, storage, carrying, preparing, transportation, sending or selling of fire guns; illegal productions, preparation, purchase, storage, transportation, sending or selling of narcotic substances, its analogy or precursor).

The above-mentioned detentions, confiscation of guns and narcotic substances was carried out by violating procedural norms, and the process was completed without the attendance of witnesses. Only police officers took part in the search and those detained were interrogated and without having a lawyer present. 

Not one of the above-mentioned detainees, or others later accused have criminal records; neither have they ever served time in prison. Their detention was only connected with the protest demonstrations held on November. 4 persons among them were arrested during the period between October 2 and November 7. Seven people were arrested from November 7 to November 14.

The following list of individuals was later charged under the above-mentioned crimes, and time had pass where they could not be blamed for taking part in the protest demonstration of November 7.

22. Revaz Kdliashvili, arrested on November 12;
23. Levan Popkhadze, arrested on November 14;
24. Joni Jokia, arrested on October 2;
25. Ioseb Jandieri, arrested on November 2;
26. Temur Khubuluri, arrested on November 10;
27. Davit Tatishvili, arrested on November 10;
28. Merab Ratishvili, arrested on October 26.

NB: The investigation against Merab Ratishvili was carried out by the Special Operative Department of the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs under the charge of espionage. The case materials contain the letter of E. Kodua to the Counter Intelligence Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Kodua sent 68 visit cards, sim card messages on his mobile phone, 24 CDs, printer, Xerox of the accused and asked the department whether those materials were state secret or not. After the Counter Intelligence Department replied that the materials were not state secret, However, Ratishvili was still charged under the Article 260.

29. Levan Sulikashvili was arrested on November 11 under the Article 225 together with Zviad Khargelia. Technology and processes using facial imagery expertise was carried out on both of them (their face was compared with the figures of the people recorded during the protest demonstration). The expertise concluded that Khargelia that had in fact participated in the protest demonstration and he was subsequently charged under Article 225 (public disorder). However, experts were unable to identify Sulikashvili on their recording, and the investigation now came under Article 260 (illegal preparation, production, purchase, and storage, transportation, sending and selling of narcotic substances, its analogy or precursors). 
30. Mikheil Giorgadze, was arrested on November 8, this was during the protest demonstration that was held on November 7, 2007. He publicly appealed to law enforcement bodies to immediately stop the violent dispersal of the demonstrators; he also told his fellow police that he was quitting his job as law enforcer, and he then publicly tore up his police ID.

Source: Georgian Conservative Party 

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