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Statement of the South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders about “Accused Victims”

08.11.2010

Human Rights NGOs undersigned below express their concern regarding the recent judgment of the Tbilisi City Court sentencing 6 youngsters to 3 years and 4 months imprisonment for hooliganism, the fact of which has not been established by reliable evidence, and despite a number of elevating circumstances present in the case. This comes as a particularly harsh sentence in comparison with a pattern of sentences applied e.g., against law enforcement officials who were found guilty of causing deprivation of citizens’ lives.  Just to compare: for the murder of Buta Robakidze, 19, the police officer was sentenced to a 4-year-imprisonment (in 2006) and the murderers of Girgvliani, 27, did not even spend the 4 years in prison, being pardoned by the President (in 2009).

On October 13, 2009, two groups of young people had a quarrel in Kostava Street as a result of which 6 students were wounded; they were Zaza Shavliashvili, Vasil Giguashvili, Badri Mikatadze, Nika Beruashvili, Roland Nikolozashvili and Saba Mghvdeladze. The investigation was carried out; certain Levan Abashidze was found guilty and sent to 13-year-imprisonment. Witness testimony and facts established during the investigation lead to the conclusion that the fight was picked up by Abashidze’s group and the wounded students responded spontaneously in self-defense.  The wounded students were recognized as victims in the case.

However, three months later, the prosecutor’s office suddenly changed the position, detained the wounded students, and charged them with hooliganism, while now newly established circumstances have been revealed.

On September 28, Judge Badri Kochlamaszashvili of the Tbilisi City Court found them guilty and sent to prison for 3 years and 6 months and fine of 3 000 GEL.  Judge Badri Kochlamazashvili stressed out several times that hooliganism is not a serious crime, that there were many alleviating circumstances present in the case, namely: guys are students,  are wounded and their health conditions worsened in the detention setting; they re characterized positively, do not have a criminal record and they did not hide from the investigation. However, these alleviating circumstances were not reflected in the judgment.
 
The court did not consider that on the same case the verdict of July 5th of 2010 (Judge Zviad Esebua) of the same court established that the quarrel was started by Levan Abashidze and his companions who inflicted serious life-threatening injuries on Nika Beruashvili, Zaza Shavliashvili, Saba Mghvdeladze, Vasil Giguashvili, Roland Nikolozashvili and Badri Miqatadze. These young people are considered victims in the same criminal case by the investigation. Levan Abashidze is sentenced to 13 years in prison. The wounded young people had a status of victims from October 13 to January 5 of 2009. And on January 5th they were suddenly detained, when Konstantine Tsatsua occupied the position of the Vake Saburtalo district prosecutor; thus, Levan Menteshashvili was put in charge of the investigation.

The accusation against the students relies on the same materials which were basis for the conviction of Levan Abashidze. In fact, it is one case with two judgments which demonstrate one and the same fact in different ways.

Consequently, one investigator carried out the investigation on one case but the court accepted two cases (1. against Levan Abashidze and 2. Against Giguashvili, Beruashvili, Nikolozashvili, Shavliashvili, Mghvdeladze and Mikatadze) and two different verdict were passed.
Reportedly, the illegal activities of the investigation, prosecutor’s office and the court have one aim – not to estimate the personality of those people who wounded the young people and who are supposedly protected by a high-ranking official.

The “accused victims” were charged under Article 239 Part II –“a” of the Criminal Code of Georgia which envisages 1) prior consent for the organized crime; 2) blatant violation of the public order.

However, the prior consent was not proved; furthermore, the same court states in the judgment on Levan Abashidze that the quarrel was launched by the group of Abashidze.

The same court did not consider the testimonies of the defense side witnesses which prove that the convicted people did not conduct violent acts or disrespected the society. Just the opposite, they obeyed the order to keep public order.

It is proved in the initial judgment on the case that the wounded students did not have any weapon with them. There is no victim revealed against them in the case materials.

Health expertise conducted by NGO “Empathia” confirmed that the health conditions of the convicted students are grave and they require urgent medical treatment. Zaza Shavliashvili got infected with C-hepatitis after he was wounded in the liver during the incident.
 
Another wounded student, Saba Mghvdeladze was infected in detention with the tuberculosis of the intestines. The prison hospital is not able to provide adequate treatment to either of the students, they do not even have the medicine necessary. The other youngsters also have problems because of the wounds.

On September 14, 2010 Human Rights Centre requested by fax from the European Court of Human Rights to release one of the students, Shavliashvili and transfer him to the prison pending the trial, due to his health conditions. The President of the Section decided to request the Government, to submit the information regarding the applicant’s current state of health and the treatment which is provided to him in the prison by October 13.

Despite appeal to do so, the students did not plead guilty. Only one of them, Roland Nikolozashvili pleaded guilty. He was dismissed from the court-room after the prosecutor’s office and the attorney made a deal – 3-year of suspended sentence and fine of 2 000 GEL was imposed on him.

The parents of the accused students believe, however that Nikolozashvili pleaded guilty under influence of their family attorney Nana Pridonashvili. The latter made a secret deal with the prosecutor’s office – her client would be released from imprisonment if he had pleaded guilty. Thus, Nikolozashvili’s testimony aimed to avoid the imprisonment and not to estimate the truth.

The judgment of the September 28, 2010 of the Tbilisi City Court comes as a particularly harsh and illogical sentence considering all the elevating circumstances present in the case, the judgment of the same court (on Abashidze’s case) establishing facts excusing the guilt of the students  and the absence of reliable evidence found by the subsequent investigation proving contrary.

It is also to be noted that this sentence raises many questions and concerns.

Judge Kochlamazashvili passed illegal, inadequately strict and inhuman judgment. He continues the tendency of the slavery obedience of the court towards the prosecutor’s office which has become a serious problem for the last few years in the Georgian judiciary system.

The judgment proves that “liberalization of the punishment”, which was largely proclaimed by the governmental officials before the international observes, is only a myth. In fact, the “selective justice” and “zero tolerance” still work in Georgia and as a result of what the detention settings are overcrowded in the country with arbitrarily arrested people.

Human Rights Organizations undersigned herein request to all the stakeholders involved in promoting human rights and freedoms in Georgia and particularly to those international and national stakeholders who are involved in the criminal justice reform in Georgia to pay particularly close attention to this case and take all the measures within their competence to facilitate justice in the case in question.

Former Political Prisoners for Human Rights        (Georgia)
Human Rights Center (HRIDC)    (Georgia)
Center for the protection the constitutional rights    (Georgia)
Article 42 of the Constitution (Georgia)
Multinational Georgia      (Georgia)
Asparez, Journalist Club, Gyumri region (Armenia)
Helsinki Assembly, Vanadzor  (Armenia)
Public Information and Need of Knowledge (PINK) (Armenia)
Media Rights Institute  (Azerbaijan)
Association for the Protection of Women’s Rights in Azerbaijan after D.  Aliyeva (Azerbaijan)
Legal Education Society (Azerbaijan)
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Name: ოლღა
2010-11-16 18:32
აღნიშნულ საქმეზე სააპელაძიო სასამართლოს დანიშვნა ჭიანურდება
Name: გოგი
2010-11-12 08:30
უკვე აშკარაა რომ ეს ახალგაზრდები პროკურორ ცაცუას ახირებას ეწირებიან
Name: უჩა
2010-11-11 11:00
ჩვენ ძალიან უსამართლო ქვეყანაში ვცხოვრობთ და ხალხი,რომელიც ამ უსამართლობას ეგუება ის ამის ღირსია
Name: ვახტანგ
2010-11-10 09:41
ამას კომენტარი არ სჭირდება
Name: უჩა
2010-11-09 08:43
საპატიმროში დარჩენილ სტუდენტებზე ხორციელდება ძეწოლა,რათა მათ ნიკოლოზაშვილის მსგავსად,,აღიარონ დანაშაული"
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