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Director of “Tanamgzavri” TV Station Escapes Imprisonment

07.02.2006
Director of “Tanamgzavri” TV Station Escapes Imprisonment 


On February 2, all the local media in the Kakheti region were anxiously awaiting a sentence to be given by Judge Natela Jashiashvili. Enri Kobakhidze, the Director of the Telavi regional TV station, “Tanamgzavri”, was accused of contempt of court. The accusation is connected with a trial held in Telavi regional court on February 1.

On February 1, Telavi regional court sentenced Luka Ramazashvili, a friend and business partner of Enri Kobakhidze, to two months imprisonment. Kobakhidze attended the trial. According to Telavi police officers, Enri Kobakhidze responded with inappropriate expressions to the verdict of the court, given by Judge Nemsitsveradze. Other witnesses claim that Kobakhidze verbally assaulted the judge.

On February 2, Ucha Iagorashvili, an employee at the Telavi Regional Police Office, giving testimony about the accusation stated: “Whilst the verdict was being given, people became alarmed and I could hear possibly this man (he pointed to Kobakhidze) swearing… As far as I remember, at that moment the judge was leaving the room. Other police officers are also able to testify to these facts”.

After several minutes, Ucha Iagorashvili changed his mind and was sure Kobakhidze was the man swearing - the word “possibly” had disappeared altogether. Despite the fact that Iagorashvili noted that the other witnesses (his colleagues) were able to confirm the facts and prove his statement; he failed to mention them in the writ completed by him the day before. In explanation of this, he stated: “The other witnesses were not present whilst I was writing the writ, which is why they are not mentioned in it”.
Some witnesses claimed that the whole room greeted the court decision with an uproar but others say: “There was silence in the room; only Kobakhidze made any noise”.
The director of the “Tanamgzavri” TV station stated the following to the court and the journalists: ‘Everything is a brazen lie; the local government and Gocha Mamatsashvili personally, the acting governor of the Telavi region, are behind all of this because they are trying to transfer the TV station into Mamatsashvili’s hands. They have made several attempts at this so far but these have been unsuccessful. That is why he decided to arrest the heads of the TV station”.
On February 2, Telavi region majority deputy, Tamaz Khidasheli, also gave testimony to the court. He stated that: “Yesterday, throughout the whole day, Enri and I were together. Luka Ramazashvili is my friend, thus, I attended his trial. Consequently, I can confirm that Enri did not swear. What is more, I could not hear any swearing at all”.

In anticipation of the sentence that was to be given by Judge Natela Jashiashvili, all of the journalists had gathered in the court building, predicting Enri Kobakhidze’s arrest. Fears were especially high because of the escort that had mobilized in front of the court building.

The judge’s decision came as a surprise, because Enri Kobakhitze only had to pay a 7.50 lari fine and was then released.

The fact that the TV station director had escaped imprisonment meant a happy ending for the media in Kakheti this time. However, the people attending the trial believe that the decision was only influenced for the better by the presence of MP Khidasheli. Had he not been there, the authorities would not have easily agreed with losing the case and will certainly not want any further set backs to their plans in the future.
 

Veriko Kobiashvili from Telavi

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