A Great Fuss in the Gori District Court
There is often a great fuss in front of the Gori district and civil court. Many notes appear on the boards, but they do not actually give the exact trial time as the proceedings rarely begin at the posted hour. People gather on the stairs of the court and simply wait.
A judge at the court discusses at least 7-8 cases a day. It is difficult to predict when the first case discussion will finish and a session can last more than one hour. Meanwhile, the participants, witnesses, lawyers and relatives of the accused in the second scheduled case wait for their turn in the snow and cold outside.
A bailiff of the court can often be heard shouting at the waiting people, “Go out…those who have no business inside, leave the building…”
The court building has been recently renovated. Bailiffs stand at the entrance and it is impossible to reach the board to read the notices. “You must not stand here,” bailiffs say if you approach the area.
“The case on Dadiani is now starting,” the second bailiff is crying out. “Those who want to attend the case discussion come inside.” One must be very attentive to hear the surname the bailiff cries out and should be strong to get into the building on time.
“Put your passports on the table,” the bailiff sitting at the court gate says. Several months ago, one of the bailiffs at the Gori district court was arrested and accused of heading a group that seized passports from citizens and then involved them in sexual exploitation. The bailiff was sentenced to twelve years in prison.
“What is going on in this court? Nana Tskhovrebashvili asks. She has been coming to the courthouse for her father’s trial for a month. “It is already 5:00 PM and they have not started discussion of any cases yet. They call us at 12:00PM and we have to stand in the queue until 5 or 6:00PM. When we enter the hall, they will declare that the working day has finished and the hearing postponed. The same thing happens every day. Maybe someone will pay attention to us or at least have chairs in the yard. Why have they renovated the building? Only they have the right to sit in comfortable rooms? We are freezing outside.”
“How could I say anything about the court after the problems I encountered at the Prosecutor’s Office?” a lawyer just arrived from Tbilisi stated. “They never accept appeals. If you want to hand in an appeal, you must give it to a watchman. If they do not like it, the watchman will give it back to you. I have never seen anything like this anywhere else. Can appeals be handed through a window? Nobody cares that appeals should be registered and we need the registration number.”
“I submitted my mediation to the Prosecutor General’s Office and pointed out in the appeal that I could not send my petition to any other place,” the lawyer went on. “People, you should resist it, you must not keep silent!”
Most lawyers from Gori do not want to voice their opinion. Law enforcement has detained lawyers previously. They have already detained Izo Razmadze, Kartlos Sulaberidze, Zaza Svianadze and others. They were all accused of manipulating their clients, which involves the accused changing their initial testimonies at trial. The accused claimed that they changed their testimony on their lawyer’s insistence. Lawyers are frightened in Gori.
Saba Tsitsikashvili, Gori
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