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Statement about the release of the political leaders and ongoing criminal litigations against them

May 18, 2020
Human Rights Center positively evaluates the release of the former Tbilisi City Mayor and a leader of the European Georgia Gigi Ugulava and the leader of the political party Victorious Georgia Irakli Okruashvili from prison based on the President’s pardon. Both convicted politicians left prison facility on the same day the Pardon Act was issued – on May 15.

Gigi Ugulava was convicted based on the February 10, 2020 judgment of the Supreme Court of Georgia, who found him guilty for unlawful appropriation or embezzlement of another person's property in connection with the Tbilisi Development Fund. 

Irakli Okruashvili was convicted for the participation in the violence during the June 20-21, 2019 events based on the April 13, 2020 judgment. He was sentenced to five-year imprisonment.  

There were many questions and doubts over both cases and judgments, for what, local and international human rights organizations, embassies accredited in Georgia, EU and US politicians or diplomats expressed their concern and called on the Government of Georgia to release the political leaders. At the same time, the Government was criticized because of the delay in the fulfillment of the part of March 8, 2020 agreement between the GoG and the opposition, which underlined the president’s authority to promote free, fair and transparent election process. In the context of this agreement, local and international actors called on the GoG to release the political prisoners, after what the parties could continue discussion over election issues. 

HRC continues monitoring of the allegedly politically motivated criminal cases. On May 7, the organization published the legal assessment of the criminal cases against Gigi Ugulava. The document reviews alleged political motives and miscarriages in the analyzed cases. HRC works on the similar document with regard to criminal cases launched against Irakli Okruashvili too. 

Although Ugulava and Okruashvili are already free, the common courts continue examination of other cases against them that means in future the political leaders may return to prison. 

HRC monitors the ongoing trials into the criminal cases against Gigi Ugulava and Irakli Okruashvili in common courts. In the so-called airport incident case, method of provocation was used against Gigi Ugulava that is usually used in the politically motivated criminal prosecutions. Many problems were identified in the case against Irakli Okruashvili too; in addition to that the Tbilisi City Court unlawfully closed the hearings of this case. 

It is important to note that the US Embassy and the EU Delegation in Georgia also monitor the hearings into allegedly politically motivated cases. Therefore, all violations and legal miscarriages will be adequately evaluated by local and international observers. 

Human Rights Center