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Arrested Senior Officials of the Agriculture Ministry Believe They Are Victims of Selective Justice


Tamta Tvalavadze

On May 1, Counter-Corruption Agency of the MIA arrested eight senior officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and Ltd Mechanizatori – dealer of agricultural equipment; they were charged for the waste of budget funds, professional negligence and oppression on experts. The detainees were sentenced to pre-trial imprisonment. Later on, after visiting the detainees in Gldani prison, Georgian Young Lawyers Association stated that the accused people were physically and verbally assaulted during interrogation.

The detainees are: head of the Agricultural Technologies Unit at the Ministry Omar Tedoradze; director of the Ltd Mechanizatori Vazha Nakhutsrishvili; deputy directors of the Ltd Mamuka Ivaniadze and Besik Tetvadze; consultants – Otar Karchava and Zaza Makharoblidze; dean of the Agronomy Faculty at the Georgian Agricultural University Teo Urushadze, manager of the Ltd TekAgroService – official representative of the Company ZETOR in Georgia Givi Kaikhosroshvili.

None of the detainees plead guilty. Their lawyer Soso Baratashvili told www.humanrights.ge that the charge imposed by the Prosecutor’s Office is groundless and the detainees are victims of the selective justice.

Soso Baratashvili, the lawyer of the detainees: “Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia is founder of the Agency for the Management of Agricultural Projects, which implements different projects in the agricultural field. In the fall of 2012, based on the decree of the Government of Georgia, the Agency had to develop the project for the promotion of summer works of the farmers, who have little land.

In December of 2012, government decided to allocate 50 million lari from the state budget to purchase agricultural techniques. A special working commission was set up at the Ministry of Agriculture to monitor expenditure of the state funds. Parameters of the tractors and other agricultural means were estimated after three meetings of the commission members. After that, based on the decree of a commission member and general director of the Ltd Mechanizatori Vazha Nakhutsrishvili, a commission for the purchase of agricultural means was set up.

Parameters Estimating Commission concluded that tractor with 115 HP were right for the Georgian soil. On that ground, tractors with 115 HP were purchased with the funds allocated from the state budget. After the commission sessions finished, an investigation was launched to estimate why the commission decided to buy 115 HP tractors instead 110 HP ones. However, the prosecutor could not prove the necessity of 110 HP tractors either. Later, Commission members were accused of the waste of state funds. According to the prosecutor’s allegation, 110 HP tractors were relevant to the Georgian soil as well and it was not necessary to purchase 115 HP ones that cost much more expensive.

It is interesting that there were 15 members in the commission and only six of them were arrested. It is unclear how the innocence of the rest 9 persons was proved. There is assumption that people were selected to arrest.

-What is the motivation of the accusation in the case materials?

Commission members were accused of the waste of budget funds but their action should have some purpose? The accusation does not say anything about it. If there is no concrete purpose of waste, the case was qualified under the wrong article. Inattentiveness during commission sessions is qualified as professional negligence that is minor crime. Apparently, the prosecutors thought the charge was not grave enough and re-qualified it into the waste of money. The case materials do not prove the guiltiness of the accused people at all.

-What was the motive of their detention?

I asked this question at the trial and they replied it was written in the case materials; though nothing is written there in fact. The prosecutor alleges the motive of similar decision was financial schemes which do not exist in fact; it did not happen and similar action is not reflected in the case.

-Did you observe any violation during imposing the charge?

Of course we did. Four of the accused people stated at the trial that they were under oppression in order to make guilty statements. It is selective justice. Whilst the court does not impose any charge on Gigi Ugulava, who is accused of the waste of much huger funds, what is happening in this particular case and why those people were sent to pre-trial detention? The detainees are professors, scientist and irreplaceable professionals in their field. There was no threat that they would hide from the investigation, influence the witnesses or destroy the evidence. The detainees believe they are victims of misunderstanding and injustice.
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