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Parties at Trial are not Allowed to Comment without Judge's Permission

11.12.2006
sasamartlo.gifThe chairman of the Supreme Court, Kote Kublashvili, has limited the number of people who can attend the trial. Parliamentary Opposition called it an unprecedented overreach and suggested abolishing it. Kublashvili recommended the opposition calm down and get up early in order to be admitted to trial.

The decree made by Kublashvili on July 7, 2006, consisted of eight paragraphs. The opposition expressed their concern over the fourth paragraph, which states, "In the case of increased public interest in a particular case, the number of attendants should be limited to the number of seats in the courtroom to maintain order at the trail. The bailiffs should handle the situation by regulating the number of the people entering the courtroom. The people who are late for the process will not be allowed into the courtroom."

Parliamentary opposition criticized this particular paragraph and called it unconstitutional. Kakha Kukava from the Conservative Party told the Human Rights Centre that the chairman of the Supreme Court has breached the constitution by promulgating this decree.

Kakha Kukava said, "The restriction of attendance at trials is an unprecedented overreach, since the constitution is above all regulations as well as laws. Kublashvili decided to enforce the unconstitutional rule through the power of his own office. This means Kublashvili has received his German legal education in vain. Even the students of our university are taught that trials are public and must conform to the principle of free speech. In the 21st century, people should be allowed into a courtroom by the judge himself."

The opposition insists that the decree was adopted reasonably. They say that the goal of the decree is to prevent the situation which happened during the hearing of Sandro Girgvliani and Shalva Ramishvili's cases. "The people will be allowed into the courtroom according to the judge's wish because of space limitations. Consequently, only 10 or 15 people will be let in. Do you remember what happened at Girgvliani and Ramishvili's trials? Young nationals were in the courtroom. They did not allow Girgvliani's mother and Ramishvili's wife into the room. It is shameful, nothing more," said Kukava.

He also said that the Parliament can abolish such decrees and that the opposition is currently working on the issue. However, Kublashvili said that his decision was fair and did not take into consideration his opposition's position.

Kote Kublashvili said, "This decree shows my position. I do not agree with the critics and do not listen to them, either. The fact is that the number of attendants should match the number of seats in the courtroom. The same rule is in many other countries. We do not restrict transparency by doing so. When there are only fifty seats in the courtroom and more than 200 people want to attend the trial, it is impossible to keep the room quiet and orderly…"

As for Ramishvili and Girgvliani's trials, Kublashvili said, "I cannot say what really happened there. Maybe strangers attended and no more seats were left. I want to tell you about another new regulation. When the judge enters the courtroom, the door to the courtroom will be locked and nobody will be allowed to enter or leave the room, even if there are vacant places left."

Before Kublashvili gave this decree, the Parliament had adopted a draft law, which barred the disrespecting of a judge. Besides that, the law prohibited demonstrations within twenty meters of the court building.  Those people, who criticize the court in the media, will be fined or imprisoned.

Although what constitutes disrespecting a judge is not defined in the draft law, Kublashvili explained that this law can be divided into two parts. "The first part prohibits disturbing a trial, such as by arriving late or speaking on a cell phone.  The second part concerns disparaging words expressed by the parties not only toward the court itself but to each other as well…  As for the section concerning statements made to the media, we will debate this section at a later… Everybody has a right to criticize others.  However, this law concerns not ordinary criticism but inflammatory language like, "the judge is a slave", etc.  I think this paragraph should be more precise."

Eka Gulua

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