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Railway Station for Policemen and Thieves

06.01.2009
Bail of 100 Thousand GEL for Having Bought Stolen Mobile Phone
Tea Topuria

Giorgi Jikuri, an accused student was allowed out on a 100 000 GEL bail for having purchased a mobile phone that cost just 300 GEL, as imposed by the Tbilisi City Court. The case is rather strange in its essence but not unprecedented. The court has passed similar verdicts in several other cases. In this particular case, student Giorgi Jikuri was imposed with that bail in May of 2007. It happened in Tbilisi, at reformed court. Soon it was found out that police had detained some eight more people with the same charge and each of them had to pay 100 000 GEL.

Giorgi Jikuri is a student from Dusheti district. He lived at his aunt’s house in Tbilisi. The police arrested him on October 22, 2006 near the Railway station when he was buying a mobile phone.

Interrogation Extract Giorgi Jikuri (# 063127): “I left my aunt’s house at about 12:00 PM on October 22 2006 and went to the Railway Station. I intended to buy a mobile phone and was looking for a proper one. A stranger approached me and requested to pay 20 GEL in advance and he would be able to bring me a mobile phone within half an hour. I trusted him and gave money because he left his ID with me. As soon as this person left me several policemen came up and arrested me.”

Case on Mobile Phones – I

Giorgi Jikuri was searched on the scene of detention. However law enforcers could not find anything but money and student’s certificate on him. The house of his aunt, Elza Jikuri, was also searched where police could not find a mobile phone either.

Giorgi Berikashvili lost mobile phone “Motorola V3” with the identification code IMEI – 355537-00-446719-9 on October 17, 2006 and reported the lost phone to the Mtatsminda-Krtsanisi police department the next day. The police looked for that telephone first in the pocket of Jikuri and then in the house of his aunt.
On October 2006 Tbilisi Main Department of Internal Affairs received another report about a stolen mobile phone. Ilia Rogava, reported to the police that he had found a cell phone on the staircase close to Philharmonic Building in Tbilisi. He inquired whether this telephone was stolen or not and whether he had right to sell it.

One paragraph from the testimony of Rogava is particularly interesting: “I know who purchases stolen cell phones in Tbilisi. It is near the shopping mall “Pasaji”. I am ready to cooperate with the investigation regarding the situation.

According to case materials Rogava started to cooperate with the police based on the following plan. He went to “Bazroba” near the railway station with the “Motorola” of Berikashvili and offered Giorgi Jikuri to buy it. Simultaneously he was recording their conversation. Policemen were standing close and waiting for Jikuri to buy the stolen phone; they wanted to arrest him immediately.

This secret audio-recording was inserted into the case materials as convincing evidence. L. Darakhvelidze, investigator at Tbilisi Main department of Internal Affairs and M. Tsiklauri, prosecutor at Tbilisi Prosecutor’s Office wrote in the solicitation (27/7–4–) to G. Shavliashvili, chairperson of the Collegium of Criminal Cases at Tbilisi City Court that “crime committed by Jikuri is confirmed by an interrogation protocol of the victim; testimonies of witnesses, protocols of personal search and audio-video recordings.”

Based on those materials the prosecutor demanded the court to impose bail of 100,000 USD on Jikuri. The same solicitation to the court states: “Giorgi Jikuri has committed not that serious of a crime. He has not been sincere while interrogation. I consider that Giorgi Jikuri should be imposed with the bail of 100 000 USD and should remain in prison until he pays the bail.” The court satisfied this solicitation though they imposed 100 000 GEL on Jikuri instead of requested 100 000 USD.

Black Spots on Verdict

Fixing the amount has its own set of rules. Lia Chachukashvili, the attorney of the detainee and Nino Andriashvili, lawyer for the Human Rights Center, stated that the court should have estimated the amount of bail based on the gravity of crime and financial resources of the accused. Nevertheless, Tbilisi City Court imposed 100 000 GEL on a student for less grave crime. In this case the court considered neither gravity nor financial source of the accused.

Deficiencies in the verdict passed by Judge L. Shkubuliani are demonstrated by case materials that were provided by the prosecutor’s office, which do not contain evidence though the court based on those invalid materials that the verdict is based.

According to the search protocol mobile phone was found neither on Giorgi Jikuri nor in the house of his aunt.

Giorgi Jikuri did not plead that he had purchased a stolen mobile phone.

Video-audio recordings only demonstrate that Giorgi Jikuri had borrowed money and gave it to Rogava as a deposit. However, it is not clear whether the latter gave him mobile phone or not. Personally Jikuri states that he had paid part of the price in advance and Rogava went to bring the mobile phone.

Here we offer an extract from the conversation on the audio-recorder which was recorded by certain “33” (code) and it reveals two facts. Police uses forbidden methods to arrest people and Jikuri did not buy the mobile phone.

A man enters the booth and speaks with Giorgi:
The man:”Come here for a moment, I have forgotten your name.”
Giorgi: “Giorgi”
The man: “Sorry?”
G: “Giorgi”
The man: “Gio, come here, please.”
G: “Sorr,y I am busy and if you need something come yourself”.
The man: “Here I have this one. (He gave him a mobile phone). We know each other so I can give it for a discount. I need money.
G: No, I cannot buy it.
The man: I will give it to you for small price.
G: How much?
The man: Let us say 120 GEL.
G: No, sorry. Maybe other boys will buy it.
(he took the mobile phone and looking at it).
The man: Take it if you want. I do not want to lose time. You know what situation it is nowadays. I do not want to lose time so I can discharge it even more. I feel very bad and need money.
G:How much this time?
The man: “Pay 100 GEL and take it. It is not opened yet, nice one. We know each other and there is no problem. That’s why I am giving it for such a low price. There are a lot of strange people and I cannot trust them. I could not find “Tarasa” and Zaza. Luckily I met you. Come on tell me, how much will you pay?
G: I do not have that amount of money…
The man: just tell me how much you have. I badly need money
G: Was it ever opened?
The man: I do not know, see yourself. Why are you suspicious about me? Have you met me for the first time?
G: No, I cannot take it. Somebody might use it in pieces.
The man: How much can you pay?
G: I have only 80 GEL
The man: Do you have that money in cash now?
G: I can get it soon.
The man: “please, go and get it soon. Do not make me waiting here for a long time. You know cops are everywhere and I do not want them to arrest me. To tell the truth, I got hold of it yesterday; I have nothing to hide from you…
G: wait here. I will take money and return soon…
G: Here is the money.
The man: You are perfect man. In future I will get in touch with you again. You are perfect person, I swear.

(the end of the recording)
The recording was made by “33”.

The Judge Burst Out Laughing

Elza Jikuri, aunt of Giorgi Jikuri: “At the first trial the judge bursted out laughing. He ordered bailiffs to open the cage and release the boy, ashe had not committed crime. He went to make final decision and prosecutor and investigator followed him. Finally he stated that accused was imposed with the bail of 100, 000 GEL. I was shocked… Finally, Giorgi was sent to prison for 1 year. Before the trial seven months had already passed and he was released after 4 months.”

Student Giorgi Jikuri had to pay 100 000 GEL within 14 days according to the verdict.

The court could not decide whether a crime had actually been committed or not

Lia Chachukashvil, the attorney says that the judge was obliged to study case materials and determine for sure whether the crime had actually happened or not.

Lia Chachukashvili: “Jikuri did not commit a crime. Moreover, he became a victim of crime when police sent a person with audio and video recorder to set him up. Case materials demonstrated that Jikuri did not buy the mobile phone; he did not even want to buy it. He was compelled to buy it. Even if he wished to buy it, accused did not know that it was stolen. In parallel to it, it is not really estimated whether the owner had lost this mobile phone or it was stolen. Even if Jikuri knew that the telephone was stolen, this incident could be declared as attempted crime and nothing more.”

Same Story for Nine People

Case on Giorgi Jikuri is interesting because it is part of one larger operation. At that period of time police arrested nine people with the same charge. Everybody was charged for the purchase or selling a stolen telephone. Like Jikuri others amount of the bail was fixed at 100 000 GEL and they were sent to prison for one year or one year and half. All nine stories are completely the same and we were allowed to study all of them.

It must be pointed out that court did not pay attention to the fact that law enforcers used provocative methods to arrest people, and they conspired to set people up to buy stolen phones as entrapment. In Jikuri’s case video and audio recordings show that the accused was compelled to buy the mobile phone. Law enforcers did it despite the law which states that “provoking the crime or persuading a person to commit a crime is charged under Article 145 of the Criminal Code. The crime is punished for three-year-restricted freedom; or 6-month imprisonment or 4-year-imprisonment.”

Since the case materials evidently demonstrated the provocation of the policemen, Lia Chachukashvili, the attorney, requested investigation to react on the fact. Her petition to M. Abuladze, deputy Tbilisi Prosecutor, is in case materials where the attorney requested the prosecutor’s office to reply to her whether they started investigation or not against law enforcers who provoked Giorgi Jikuri.

The court did not pay attention to that fact either.

How Case Materials Are Fabricated

These nine people were arrested, one after another, they were all charged under the same accusation and court passed same verdicts on them. All these details look too suspicious in light of the circumstance.

We could study case materials only on two accused people: Giorgi Jikuri and Kukuri Kobaladze.

Case on Mobile Phones -2; or Find Ten Distinguishes

Like in case materials on Giorgi Jikuri, all documents on Kukuri Kobaladze (N 01065204)  started from the lost mobile phone which was later found by an accidental passer-by and sold it to Kobaladze in the presence of policemen. Policemen recorded the process as well.

The first question, whether anybody really lost the mobile phone, which makes us think when we are reading testimonies of victims in the case materials on Jikuri and Kobaladze. The investigative reports are written in equally poor Georgian; not only stories are the same but even phrases and wording.

We offer these two testimonies for comparison:

Testimony of victim Mikheil Gogia (case materials on Kobaladze): “On October 17 2006 I was travelling by bus # 86 in Tbilisi. It stopped at the bus-stop near the “Grmaghele Underground Station” and I got off. I wanted to buy phone card. However, I could not find the mobile phone in my pocket that I had bought several hours before. The mobile phone was “Motorola V3” with the identification code IMEI 356865-00-793367-0; I paid 280 GEL. I learned about the incident after getting off the bus. There were a lot of people on the bus and supposedly one of them must have taken it from my pocket. I cannot say who exactly was the pick-pocket was. I had put mobile phone in the outer pocket of my coat after I bought it.”

Testimony of victim Giorgi Berikashvili (case materials on Jikuri): “On October 17 2006 at about 2:00 PM I was near philharmonic building in Tbilisi. I had my mobile phone with me; “Motorola V3” with identification code of IMEI 355537 -00- 446719-9. I had my mobile phone in the outside pocket of my coat. I got off at the bus stop near the Philharmonic building. While getting off the bus I put the phone in the outside pocket of my coat. There were many people at the bus stop and were pushing towards the bus entrance. When I left the crowd I looked for my mobile hone and it was not in my pocket. I am sure that somebody had stolen my phone at the bus stop when I was getting off…”

Question II: Did anybody really find mobile phone?

Testimony of Paata Putkaradze, person who found lost phone (case materials on Kobaladze): On October 18 2006 at 11:00 AM I was near GrmaGhele underground station in Tbilisi where I found black Motorola VS; after having checked it the identification code of the mobile phone was IMEI 35685007933670. I looked around to find a person who could have lost it; I also wondered whether it was stolen or not. So I applied to the Tbilisi main department of the Internal Affairs to estimate the origin of the mobile phone; I am poor and wanted to sell it only after estimating its origin. However, I could sell it without applying to the police department because I know where stolen phones are accepted. This place is in the shopping mall “Pasaji” near the railway station in Tbilisi. I want to cooperate with the investigation and assist them to find out those people who conduct such kinds of activities.”

Testimony of Ilia Rogava, who found telephone (case materials on Jikuri): “On October 20 2006 at 11:00 AM I was near the philharmonic building in Tbilisi. I saw black “Motorola V3” on the staircase of the underground passage. I checked the code it was IMEI 35553700446. Having found it I looked around to see whether there was somebody who could lose it. However it could have been even stolen and I applied to the police station to check the origin of the phone. I wanted to sell it because I am not wealthy person. I know where stolen telephones are accepted; it is in shopping mall “Pasaji” and can cooperate with police regarding the issue.”

There are several questions: If the victims really had their mobile phones stolen why the thieves dropped the phones in the streets several minutes later. It is evident that something is not stolen for the purpose of dropping it in the street.

In addition, the incident happened in very crowded place like close to philharmonic building and Grmaghele underground station, telephones were on the ground without any attention for several days.

…and other questions, which were not asked by the court

“Motorola V3”- did these mobile phones really existed or not?

It is strange that mobile phones mentioned in both cases are of equal model and color. The only difference between the phones is the identification codes. However, the code of the telephone found by Rogava did not coincide with the code of the telephone that was actually lost. One more fact: Jikuri states in his testimony that Rogava was offering him the mobile phone of the model “Nokya” and not “Motorola” which Rogava did not have on him, by the way.

Kobaladze and Jikuri were searched on the scene of detention in both cases. However the police did not find phones on either of them. The houses of detainees were also searched though both of them were arrested on the scene of “crime” and could not manage have taken the stolen phones home.

The investigation confirms by the search protocols that the mobile phones, which were sold to concrete people, were not found on them five minutes later. So, these mobile phones did not exist at all. How can we prove the opposite?

Or: if victims really existed who lost telephones, they should have their cell phones returned. Case materials do not show similar activities were conducted.

Owners of the mobile phones: Mikheil Gogia and Giorgi Berikashvili are not in Tbilisi currently. Parents of Mikheil Gogia cannot remember whether police returned mobile phone to their son. However, they exactly know that at the moment he does not have mobile phone at all. “How can I give you his mobile phone? He does not have it; somebody picked it from him.”

Nobody got interested in the fact that after the detention of Jikuri and Kobaladze situation continued identically. Both crimes were investigated by L. Darakhvelidze, investigator at Tbilisi main department of internal affairs and then it was transferred to m. Tsiklauri, prosecutor of Tbilisi Prosecutor’s Office. By the way, interrogation protocols of Putkaradze and Rogava, which are completely equal, are signed by Darakhvelidze.

One more coincidence: solicitations of prosecutor M. Tsiklauri to G. Shavliashvili, chairperson of the Collegium of Criminal Cases at Tbilisi City Court, in both cases are equal as well. “Crime committed by Jikuri (by Kukuri Kobaladze in the second one) is confirmed by the interrogation protocol of the victim; testimonies of witnesses, protocols of personal search and audio-video recordings.”

Questions Asked By Independent Lawyers to the Court

Nino Andriashvili, lawyer for the Human Rights Center: “The court did not find out whether Ilia Rogava found the telephone mentioned in the case materials or stole it. If he found it as it is stated, why he should have cooperated with law enforcers. Is it crime when a person finds telephone and hands it at the police station?!

We doubt that Rogava personally stole this mobile phone. Police investigated his crime and offered him cooperation in exchange of freedom. Their offer was to provoke another person to buy the stolen telephone. Here we face two crimes committed by Ilia Rogava: one envisaged under Article 145 of the Criminal Code-provoking a crime and another envisaged under the Article 186, paragraph I of the Criminal Code – selling the thing that was got hold of through criminal way.”

Lawyers state that fair court could have found faults on the preliminary investigation. It could have found the circumstances based on which the investigation could have been considered incomplete… And one more fact- judge could really “burst out laughing” hearing the amount of imposed bail.

Lia Toklikishvili, leader of journalistic investigation

The investigation was carried out within the project “Monitoring of Judiciary System in Georgia” implemented by the Human Rights Center and the magazine “Word”.

Supporter of the project – “Eurasia Partnership Foundation“
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