Patrol Policeman Was Sentenced to Seven-year-old Imprisonment
The judge finished the court proceeding on criminal case within 43 minutes.
Telavi District Court found Besik Mrelashviil guilty for killing twenty-year-old Giga Charbadze in a car-accident. Mrelashvili was a patrol policeman at the Internal Ministry. The judge Marika Tsertsvadze sentenced the accused to seven-year-old imprisonment and bailiffs detained him in the court room. The lawyer for the accused blames the court for partiality because he was not allowed to defend his client.
The car crash happened in Telavi on March 25 2007. Jeep of Besik Mrelashvili knocked down Giga Charbadze when he was crossing the street. Injured boy died in a hospital. The patrol police, having arrived at the scene of the accident, tried to hush the crime and drew up fraud documents as the investigation stated. However, the prosecutor has not charged them for the crime.
On May 1 Kakheti Regional Prosecutor’s Office stopped the preliminary investigation on the criminal case. The case materials were sent to the Telavi District Court for further discussion on the same day. The judge Marika Tsertsvadze earmarked the trial on May 1 and informed the parties several hours before the court hearing. Despite that, the victim side, the accused and the lawyer appeared at the trial in time. The lawyer for the accused, Tamar Metreveli mediated on changing the judge and postponing the case discussion. However, her mediation was not satisfied.
“The imperative demand of the law is to give three-day time to parties after it was sent to the court. That time is foreseen to discuss the materials of the completed investigation, to prepare mediation, etc. The judge Tsertsvadze, who is also a member of the Georgian Council of Justice, blatantly violated and ignored demands of the legislation. She did not give me a chance to say a word; she left the hall and declared the trial closed when I was going to make some remarks in the trial record. The judge postponed the court hearing for May 7 because the lawyer for the victim side had not appeared at the court. I protested her decision, because five days were not enough to look through the case materials and get ready for the process, but they did not pay attention to my protest. I was handed the court warrant which stated that the next trial was earmarked at 1:00 PM on May 7. On May 3, at approximately 10:00 PM my client called me and said that Eka Tsatsalashvili, an assistant to the judge, had informed him that the date for the trial was changed and it was going to be held on May 4. The reason for the changes was busy judge. She was going on a business trip on May 7. On May 4 I had to be occupied at other trials in Tbilisi Appeal Court and I informed the judge about that. I sent a letter to her and asked not to blame me for absence and to postpone the hearing in order not to breach the rights of the accused. The Judge Tsertsvadze did not take my request into consideration,” said lawyer Metreveli.
The Judge Tsertsvadze appointed state attorney, Bela Garsevanishvili, for the accused Mrelashvili. The accused did not agree with the judge’s decision and demanded to cancel the appointed attorney. “Garsevanishvili does not know the case materials and will not manage to defend me. She will take part in the court hearing to assist the judge to pass verdict today,” said Mrelashvili.
The judge gave several minutes to the attorney to look through the case materials. Having announced the break, the judge Tsertsvadze asked Bela Garsevnaishvili to accompany her into her quarter. During the trial, the accused and his relatives forced the attorney Garsevanishvili to raise some mediations and it irritated the state accuser, Prosecutor for Kakheti Regional Prosecutor’s Office, Davit Andriashvili. Besides that the latter was trying to influence witnesses. As soon as a witness failed to repeat the facts s/he had mentioned in the preliminary testimony, Andriashvili was reminding them the details and answered the question himself. Only four witnesses out of six were interrogated during the court hearing. All of them stated that they witnessed the car accident from a long distance and their preliminary testimonies were based on supposition. They all said that they were drunk at that time.
Nobody attended the trial from the victim side. Judge Tsertsvadze finished the case discussion within 43 minutes.
The Prosecutor’s Office was demanding eight-year-imprisonment for the accused but the judge passed verdict on seven-year-imprisonment. Mrelashvili was detained in the court room.
-Mr. Besik, don’t you plead yourself guilty? -You have witnessed how the judge conducted the trial and what happened. As for me I wanted to use my right to silence but I never succeeded to enjoy the right; I had to defend myself because for the circumstances. The lawyer was under the pressure of the judge and the prosecutor. The state attorney did not want to defend me because I resisted her defense initially; however she was forced to. I will appeal against the verdict at the Appeal Court because the decision is illegal. Have you ever witnessed the court discussion of the criminal case that finished within several minutes?” said Mrelashvili.
Bela Garsevanishvili did not want to comment on the situation. Bailiffs saw her off from the court building.
Journalists and representatives of the non-governmental organizations attended the trial. All of them said they do not doubt Mrelashvili committed a crime but they said a person should not be punished under blatant violation of human rights.
Gela Mtivlishvili, Kakheti
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