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Prosecutor’s Witnesses into Lawyer Mdinaradze’s Case do not Support the Prosecutor’s Position

17.11.2016

 
Lana Giorgidze

On November 14, the Tbilisi City Court held next trial into the case of the former head of the Tbilisi Vake-Saburtalo district police unit Lasha Kvirkvaia. The case is about a high-profile case which refers to the physical assault of the lawyer Giorgi Mdinardze in the police office, for what Kvirkvaia was accused of abuse of power and harassment.

Two days before the trial, Human Rights Center called on the Georgian media sources to get interested in the case and highlight the ongoing trials into the case of the lawyer’s physical harassment.

“There is a real threat that the officers of the Tbilisi Vake-Saburtalo district police unit # 5 will continue giving false testimonies to the court in order to protect the former head of the police unit and influence the court in that way. HRIDC believes the prosecutor’s witnesses intentionally delivered false information to the court at the previous hearings claiming that the lawyer Mdinaradze pulled the ear and verbally insulted the investigator and the head of the police office Lasha Kvirkvaia,” the statement of Human Rights Center reads.

Hearings of Lasha Kvirkvaia’s case attracted public attention; because of large audience, it was impossible to hold the session into the preliminarily selected courtroom and the hearing continued in the bigger room. Representatives of the NGOs, Georgian Bar Association, head of the GBA Zaza Khatiashvili and representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs attended the hearing.

As soon as the hearing started, the accused Lasha Kvirkvaia requested to replace the judge.

“I have been working for the MIA from the age of 20; however everybody betrayed me now: my friends and others. I have only one way to estimate the truth – the court. But here I have a feeling that the decision is already made. You, Judge Lili Mskhiladze, worked as a lawyer for 5 years. You are a friend of the head of the GBA Zaza Khatiashvili both in real life and in social network, where he yesterday called me a zonder and a harasser. You see his statements everyday and of course they will influence your decision. Should I not have hope for the fair court? I urge you, please, stand yourself in my shoes before making the decision,” the accused police officer said.

Judge Lili Mskhiladze did not satisfy the solicitation of the accused person. She noted that Zaza Khatiashvili is not her close friend and does not even know where he lives. Mskhiladze said, it is impossible to create a precedent where similar circumstances may become motive to replace a judge. Mskhiladze also clarified that she is not active user of the social network and does not know what her Facebook friends post.

Two prosecutor’s witnesses were questioned at the trial – both of them were officers of the Vake-Saburtalo district police unit. Unlike previous trials, the police officers did not accuse the lawyer Mdinaradze in the violence but neither supported the position of the prosecutor’s office. Humanrights.ge recorded the testimonies of the witnesses at the trial and will present several important extracts from their statements.

Givi Lomidze, prosecutor’s witness: “On November 7, 2015 I was on the place of robbery where I detained the accused person and took him to the police unit. The accused person was a juvenile and investigator Nino Zangurashvili started his interrogation. At night I left the police office. In the morning I was called to take the juvenile detainee to the pre-trial detention setting. I heard there was some incident at night but I did not inquire about details because I was very tired and did not care what had happened.”

Kvirkvaia: “You say that you learned about the incident next day, right?”

Lomidze: Yes that is true

Kvirkvaia: “Did you hear that Mdinaradze had injured himself?

Lomidze: “Yes I heard about it.”

Mikheil Tsereteli, prosecutor’s witness: “When I arrived at the office, I saw the investigator was interrogating the juvenile; the attorney was there too; as I learned later he was Giorgi Mdinaradze. I was on the zero floor when I heard shouting. I could not recognize the voice and went upstairs. I heard “insulting” words: illiterate, etc. My colleague told me he was an attorney. Then I went back downstairs and did not see Mdinaradze afterwards. On that day we were all tested on alcohol. I do not know what the purpose of that test was but I supposed it was connected with that night noise. Later I learned from my colleagues that the lawyer had insulted my colleagues and an incident had happened.”

The head of the Georgian Bar Association Zaza Khatiashvili, who attended the trial on November 14, evaluated the testimonies of the police officers as an attempt to support the accused colleague.

“I am convinced the court will be fair and similar fact will not happen again. At the trial the accused person requested to change the judge claiming that she is my friend. Kvirkvaia’s lawyer is also my friend and will he change him too? The judge acted correctly when she did not satisfy the solicitation. Similar precedent shall not happen. It is ridiculous when police officers claim that Mdinaradze injured himself. I hope this fact will be evaluated as a crime,” Zaza Khatiashvili told humanrights.ge.

Accused Lasha Kvirkvaia told humanrights.ge that Zaza Khatiashvili believes this case is his life principle and guilty verdict in this case is case of conscious for the lawyers. He added that his case was deliberately assigned to the judge who is former lawyer because it could make the court decision clear in advance.

The former head of the Vake Saburtalo district police unit Lasha Kvirkvaia was arrested for the abuse of power in November 2015. On December 29, 2015 he was released under the bail of 10 000 GEL.

Next trial in the case is scheduled on November 25.   

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