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Prisoners of the Regional Governor

17.12.2010

Gela Mtivlishvili

On November 27, 2010 about 100 residents of Vazisubani village in Gurjaani district held protest rally against the JSC Kakheti Energy Distribution Company. They requested restoration of electricity supply. The rally participants blocked the Telavi-Tbilisi motorway for several minutes. After blocking the motorway, the Kakheti regional governor Giorgi Gviniashvili arrived in Vazisubani who was coming from Signhaghi where he had attended the Barbecue and Wine Festival. The rally participants blamed the regional governor in the negligence of the local population’s interests.

Several minutes later, patrol police officers from Kakheti regional department detained Khvicha Munjishvili and Giorgi Tsverikmazashvili for “malicious disobedience”. But police officers from Gurjaani district detained Zurab Kakiashvili and Kakhaber Mamardashvili.

Detention

“On November 27, 2010 at 7:15 pm Zurab Kakiashvili blocked the motorway in Vazisubani village in Gurjaani district. He did not obey the legal request of the police officers to free the motorway. He was drunk,” states the administrative protocol which was signed by the district inspector-investigator from Gurjaani district police department Giorgi Dzuliashvili.

Equal protocols were drawn up against Kakhaber Mamardashvili, Khvicha Munjishvili and Giorgi Tsverikmazashvili; though they are signed by other inspectors.

On the same evening, inspector-investigator Dzuliashvili reported to the deputy head of the Police Department Gocha Sibashvili: “We called upon the rally participants to free the motorway and preserve the public order but drunken Kakhaber Mamardashvili and Zurab Kakiashvili refused to obey our requests and encouraged people not to obey the legal order of the police officers. Mamardashvili and Kakiashvili were aggressive towards us and started shouting. We suggested them to calm down and keep order but they did not obey our legal requests and continued their malicious activities for what we detained them under Administrative Law, Article 173.”

After reporting, Gocha Sibashvili signed the administrative detention protocols and the detainees were taken to the preliminary detention setting before court-hearing. Gocha Sibashvili is brother of the Kakheti region deputy governor Giorgi Sibashvili.

On November 28, the law enforcement officers took the four detainees to the Telavi district court.

Legalization of Protocols

Gurjaani district police officers requested 10-day administrative imprisonment for Kakiashvili and Mamardashvili and patrol police officers requested 15-day administrative imprisonment for Munjishvili and Tsverikmazashvili.

At the trial Kakiashvili, Mamardashvili, Munjishvili and Tsverikmazashvili denied the allegation that they had committed the crime.

Zurab Kakiashvili: “On November 27, I had guests at home. There was no electricity and I wanted to find out the reason because we had paid the electricity bill completely. I went to the house of the electricity-fitter to find out the reason; the fitter lives close to the motorway. People were gathered near his house and he told me the villagers had gathered for the same problem and suggested me to go there and find out situation with the officials of the electricity distribution company who had arrived at the place. The District Governor and Regional Governor were also there. The regional governor asked me: “What are you complaining about?” and I said that the Energy Distribution Company imposed illegal bills on us and nobody tries to investigate those violations. He asked if we had other complaints too and I said we did not have drinking water and natural gas in the village. I also told him that before the parliamentary elections in 2008, when he was single mandate candidate, they brought pipes to the village and promised to supply the village with gas; the president even lit a gas in the building of the public school but the village has not been supplied with the gas yet. After that the regional governor left the area. About two minutes later, the head of the police department came and asked me: “Are you Tsutsuna’s son?” I agreed and he asked me to follow him. First I sat in his car but five minutes later a police car arrived and I was taken to the police station. I had not insulted anybody; I did not participate in blocking the street and did not resist police officers. I spent 3 hours in the Gurjaani district police station before they took me to the pretrial detention setting in Telavi. Nobody told me the reason of my detention.”

Kakha Mamardashvili, a detainee: “I have an individual electricity meter together with three other families and we never have debts on it. I went to the electricity fitter since we did not have electricity and he gave me the phone number of Avto Zarnadze - the head of the Gurjaani service center of the Kakheti Energy Distribution Company. When I called Zarnadze, he said he was in Vazisubani where people had a rally and asked me to join them if I had any complaints. Zarnadze was standing 50 meters away from the road. I explained to him our situation he said we should not have electricity supply suspended because we did not have any debts.I asked him to order his employees to restore electricity supply in my house. At that moment, the police officer approached me and asked me to follow him. I obeyed his request but when we reached the car he ordered to get into it; finally, I was taken to the detention setting. I did not take part in the protest rally at all.”

“Kakheti Energy Distribution Company imposes additional payments to us besides the electricity bills every month and unless we pay them, they suspend the electricity supply. We have petitioned to everybody but nobody has paid attention to us yet. We have even informed the electricity fitter about the family who had damaged electricity meter that could miscalculate the spent electricity but they did not react on it. So we had to hold a protest rally. At that moment, the regional governor was traveling from the festival in Sighnaghi and he was a bit drunk. He did not even listen to our complaints. He started shouting how we dared to block the motorway. Before he ordered the police officers to arrest complainers, the road was already free. Despite that, the boys were already detained. The regional governor said he would punish us this time in order to prevent future protest rallies,” said the participants of the demonstration Manana Solomnishvili and Tamar Kakiashvili.

Regional governor Giorgi Ghviniashvili denies his connection with the detention of Vazisubani residents. “We are not the government who does not listen to its population. Can you tell me when the road was blocked last? Similar facts have not happened lately. The police know its obligations and I do not interfere in their activities,” said the regional governor.

The clergyman of the Vazisubani village Church Father Grigol (Mtvarelishvili) witnessed the incident. He was interrogated at the trial based on the request of the attorney of Kakiashvili and Mamardashvili. Witness Grigol Mtvarelishvili categorically denied the allegation about Kakiashvili and Mamardashvili’s resistance to the police officers. Moreover, he said that Kakha Mamardashvili had not participated in the rally at all.

Father Grigol (Mtvarelishvili): “At 7:00 pm I finished service in Vazisubani village and was going to Vachnadzeani village to conduct evening service there. I saw a police car near the village council. It is my native village and got interested what was going on. The police officers told me nothing was happening and asked me to continue my way. A bit farther I stopped car and joined the people who were gathered near the motorway. They said they had electricity supply suspended though they had paid the bills. The police officers asked me to suggest the people to stop rally and go home. I really asked young people to go home and try to resolve the problem in another way. At that moment I saw the police officers were detaining local people. I saw the regional governor Giorgi Ghviniashvili who ordered the police officers to detain everybody who had dared to block the road. Khvicha Munjishvili told him people had paid the money but still were in darkness. The regional governor directly named the people whom the police officers had to arrest. Kakiashvili was detained at that moment; he had answered the regional governor’s questions and informed him about the problems in the village. I also saw Kakha Mamardashvili who was following the police officer. I asked him where he was going because he is my parish member. He replied he did not know; he was just ordered to follow them and obeyed their orders. Kakha managed to call me from the road and informed me that he was detained. Kakha was not among the rally participants at all.”

Zaur Bachukashvili, resident of Vazisubani village: “When I went there, the patrol police had already cleaned the road. The traffic movement was restored. Gurjaani district police officers detained Kakha later. How could they demand him to free the road when it was already free?”

Despite lack of evidence to prove the accusation, the Judge Labaza Duishvili at Telavi district court found the detainees guilty and sentenced them to 7-day administrative imprisonment.

Problem of Groundlessness

The Georgian Administrative Code regulates the procedures and characters of administrative cases. The principles, which are basis for the administrative proceeding, are the following: timely, thorough, complete and impartial investigation of every case, and its solution in full compliance with the legislation.

The lawyer of the Human Rights Center Lia Khuroshvili said the judge had passed resolution based on similar investigation; however the resolution cannot convince us that the judge relied on any concrete claiming when passing it.

The judge clarifies in the resolution: “The offence was completely proved by the provided materials. The court concludes that Zurab Kakiashvili, Kakhaber Mamardashvili, Khvicha Munjishvili and Giorgi Tsverikmazashvili had breached Article 173 of the Administrative Code of Georgia. More precisely: “malicious disobedience to the legal decree or request of the law enforcement officers when they implement their professional responsibilities.”

“The clarification of the judge - “the offence was proved by the provided materials” – is a template resolution. The description does not provide the information about legal requests of the police officers towards the offenders, how they disobeyed the order and what the position of the offender was,” said Lia Khuroshvili.

We studied 30 resolutions passed by Telavi, Kvareli and Sagarejo district courts from September 1 to December 10, 2010. Based on the formal analyze of the resolutions we found out that each judge has so-called individual template of the resolution where mostly only names are changed. 

In accordance to the Administrative Code, the resolution on the administrative offence should contain the list of the deprived subjects and documents. The abovementioned 30 resolutions do not contain similar information at all.

Besides that, from November 28 till December 8, we attended the discussion of administrative cases in Telavi district court. The judges finished the court-hearings in 10-15 minutes.

In accordance to the decision of the European Court of Human Rights on the case “Donadze VS Georgia,” “the process, which lasts only 10-15 minutes, has formal character and cannot guarantee fair discussion of the case.”

Public Defender of Georgia Giorgi Tughushi said that Article 173 of the Administrative Code of Georgia is a so-called “working article.”

“In order to justify the violation of the Article 173, the law enforcement officer should provide the resolution or request which is maliciously rejected by the offender. If the Article 173 is used together with other articles of the Administrative Code, the case is more or less clear. It is unclear which legal request of the law enforcement officer was rejected when the protocol is based on the Article 173. Most resolutions cannot answer this question. They do not allow us to find out whether the court discussed the abovementioned issues or not. This problem might lead us to the problems like: incorrect classification of the action, detention without legal basis, lack of control of the judiciary system, etc,” said the public defender.

Journalistic investigation was carried out in the framework of the project implemented by the Studio “Monitor”
 by financial support of the EU Mission in Georgia, Eurasian Partnership Foundation and Foundation “Open Society –Georgia”
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