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“Kochoia: and Arkania Changed Their Confession Statements – Trial at the Appeal Court Suspiciously Postponed

20.04.2012

Aleksi Bezhanishvili according to Interpresnews

The lawyers of the convicted for organizing of terrorist acts in Georgia connect non-delivery of their clients to the trial at the Appeal Court because of their amended confession statements. Lawyer Gela Nikolasivhili told Interpresnews that more likely the non-delivery of the convicted to the trial is connected with Merab Kolbaia, Kochoia, who pleaded guilty in 2010 and now changed the testimony.

On April 18, the trial of Merab Kolbaia [Kochoia] and six others convicted for the organizing of terrorist acts in Georgia in 2010 was postponed at the Appeal Court. The judge said that the trial was canceled because the bailiff had not delivered the defendants to the trial.

“We were at the Ministry of Correction and Legal Aid all day long trying to find out the reason why the defendants were not delivered to the trial, but in vain,” newspaper Rezonansi wrote in an article titled: “Bailiff Did Not Deliver Kochoia to the Trial/Gela Nikoleishvili: “They Need Time to Win Those People Over before Next Trial”.

“’The lawyers of the defense side allege that the real reason for the canceled trial is the desire of law enforcement officers to have more time to work on the defendants.

“We were told at the penitentiary department that the court had not communicated with them about transporting the prisoners to the trial. However, the court has sent a letter to the penitentiary department in accordance with all required procedures. Supposedly, there is some misunderstanding, but we will definitely find out the truth,’ Judge Mikheil Bebiashvili said at the trial.

Merab Kolbaia, Kochoia, changed his confession statement at the previous trial and said that he had not participated in the terrorist act. He also said that he had pleaded guilty because he was ruthlessly tortured by law enforcement officers,” the newspaper reports.

“This time, apparently, the prisoners were not delivered to the trial because they could not convince them to repeat the initial statement in exchange of shortening their sentences,” Gela Nikolaishvili told Interpresnews.

“Kolbaia is currently serving his term in Gldani prison,” Rezonansi goes on to report. “His lawyer, Mate Kharchamadze, said that after Kochoia had declared, at the previous trial, that his confession was the result of torture by law enforcement officers, a representative of the Prosecutor’s Office met the prisoner and offered to shorten his sentence if retracted his declaration.

’My client told me that a representative of the prosecutor’s office had requested him to stand up at the trial, roll up his t-shirt and show everybody that he had no torture injuries on his body. Two days ago, Kolbaia told me that he was going to announce the start of hunger-strike at the next trial,’ Kharchamadze said and clarified that Kolbaia realized that the investigation had been biased and unfair and decided to resort to an extreme form of protest – hunger-strike.”

“’Two days ago Kolbaia again confirmed with me that law enforcement officers obtained his confession statement as a result of torture. To tell you the truth, I was not surprised when the defendants were not delivered to the trial.. My client was going to make a significant statement at the trial and, maybe, this was the reason for his non-delivery,’ Kharchamadze said, who did not exclude possibility that the prisoner will be subjected to torture before the next trial too,” the author of the article wrote.

In his interview with the Interpresnews Mate Kharchamadze also said that he had requested Merab Kolbaia to confirm in written form that he really wanted to retract his statement. However, the lawyer was not allowed to take the letter from the prison. “I could take the letter in accordance to the Article 297 of the Criminal Code of Georgia but the prison administration did not allow me to take it with me and later provide it at the trial,” Mate Kharchamadze said.

“Gela Nikoleishvili, the lawyer of another one of the defendants convicted for organizing terrorist act, Davit Kekutia, said that the transportation of the defendants was scheduled but that the plans were later changed: ’I went directly to Gldani prison from the court and found out that in the morning the prisoners had been taken to the cell from where they are transferred to vehicles. So, the judge’s postponing of the trial is absurd and senseless,’ Gela Nikoleishvili said and added that real reason for postponing the trial is law enforcement’s desire to have time to work on the prisoners before the next trial.”

According to the Interpresnews’ information, Gogita Arkania also retracted his initial statement made during the preliminary investigation. Arkania confessed participation only in the terrorist act organized in Tbilisi and declared that he had pleaded guilty in other terrorist acts in other regions of Georgia only under oppression.

Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia estimated the identities of people participating in the organizing, implementation and promotion of series of terrorist acts in Georgian territory in September-November of 2010 and on December 4, 2010 arrested:

Gogita Arkania (1979) – explosion performer, former military servant;
Joni Abuladze (1982) – participant, stored and transported explosives.
Mariam Nikolava (1977) – participant, stored and transported explosives;
Gocha Khurtsilava (1985) – participant, driver
Goderdzi Archania (1978) – participant
Merab Kolbaia, Kochoia (1979) –organizer and implementer of explosions.

The investigation estimated that Gogita Archania and sought Merab Kolbaia participated in:

Explosion in Javakhishvili Street # 88, Tbilisi on November 28, 2010 close to the head office of the Georgian Labor Party which ended with the death of Nino Gordeziani, local inhabitant;

Explosion in the first micro-district of Mukhiani settlement, near the supermarket in Ninoshvili Street # 13 in Tbilisi;

Explosion near the US Embassy in Tbilisi on September 22, 2010;

Two explosions near Tbilisi Railway Station on October 21, 2010;

Attempted explosions of the railway road near Chaladidi village in Khobi district on October 2, 2010.

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