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Famous Human Rights Defender Sergei Kovalov Was Astonished by Vakhania’s Case

30.12.2009
Shorena Kakabadze, Kutaisi

On September 10, 2009 Zugdidi District Court (Judge Davit Kekenadze) sentenced Academician Vladimer Vakhania to one-year-imprisonment for preventing journalist from professional activities and to three-year-imprisonment for illegal purchase-possession of weapon; the crimes are envisaged under Article 154 Part II and Article 236 Part I of the Criminal Code of Georgia. Law enforcement officers detained Vakhania for preventing journalist from her professional activities and for the purchase-possession of weapon on March 17, 2009. He is in Zugdidi prison N 4 in unbearable conditions with poor health.

“At the trial he was green and stupefied. We doubt he is poisoned. His health conditions are still extremely poor. We do not trust doctors of the prison and requested permission to take our doctors into the custody; however we could not achieve it until Strasbourg Court took up our case. However, health conditions of the prisoner are getting worse day-by-day. To make the situation clearer, Vakhania might have heart problems even when he is resting. It is clearly described in the medical conclusion. At the trial he requested water but nobody gave him it. The man nearly fell down and died,” said attorney of Vladimer Vakhania Lali Aptsiauri.

Five more lawyers defend political prisoner besides Lali Aptsiauri (they are Gia Ebralidze, Nugzar Kvaratskhelia, Jemal Shelia, Lili Gelashvili, Kakha Lomaia). Despite that, he cannot be justified because of current situation in Georgian judiciary system.

On December 25, Chamber of Criminal Cases at the Kutaisi Appeal Court (Marina Siradze, Marina Imerlishvili, Murtaz Kapanadze) did not satisfy any of the solicitations of the defense side. The attorneys clarified that the decision was not a surprise for them because principle of fair trial was breached at the first instance court too; they could not estimate what really happened in March in Zugdidi.

What Happened in Fact?

Academician Vladimer Vakhania returned from Russia and law enforcement officers discovered automatic weapon and other explosives in his house. Before that, on February 19, 2009 he was interviewed by the local newspaper where he discussed current events in Georgia and but later it became motive to blame him in the oppression of the journalist. Before that, he tried to establish political organization and the government protested it from the very beginning.

Today, relatives of Vladimer Vakhania recall how his car was stopped in Zugdidi (his relative was driver) and policemen inquired where Vakhania was. Besides that, before his departure to Moscow his ID together with other documents were seized from Vakhania at Tbilisi Airport; thus he could not fly to Russia.

Relatives of Vakhania, as well as his attorneys, state that today he is a political prisoner and court investigation aims to discredit him. The government wants to remove Vakhania from political activities and they managed it with the support of the court and declared the academician to be at traitor in the society. People saw weapon on TV in Vakhania’s house in Zugdidi. Much was said and written about threatening the journalist which was added to case materials and soon “corresponding conclusion” was made – Vakhania was arrested.

After this incident, all national TV-channels and regional media sources refused journalist Vakhtang Komakhidze to show his movie “Spy Syndrome”. In the movie, unlike investigation, every detail of the fact is focused. Video-eye installed close to Vladimer Vakhania’s house shows that tens of policemen entered his house instead two (as it was claimed by the prosecutor’s office) and they turned everything up and down. Of course, there are other details which turned out to be odd for the investigation but not for the movie. For example, witnesses said in their testimonies that policemen with some packets in their hands entered the house of Vakhania and searched the house through violation of the law. Most part of them did not wait for the policemen standing at the gate and crapped through the fence. Vakhania’s house was surrounded by policemen all day long. They did not allow passers-by to take photos of the house. Relative of the family and witness Jambul Chikovani is still imprisoned for false testimony.

Later, attorneys of Vladimer Vakhania, together with other solicitations, requested to add the film to case materials but the court declined it for the lack of reasonable motive of it.

Refusal of the Court on the Solicitations of Attorneys

“In normal state, in normal judiciary system the court should prefer to include these materials in the case. In doing so, the court could find out the truth easily. Declining the video-recording of the video-eye is incredible. These recordings demonstrate that the policemen made completely false testimonies. I mean, if the investigation is impartial and if there is a video-recording as a proof, the court shall use it. Besides that, there is an audio-recording of Vakhania’s interview and later it was erased. There are expertise materials which prove that it was mechanical damage of the audio-recording and attempt to destroy it. It was miracle that the film was worked out by special program and the recording was saved. It shows that somebody tried to erase the recording completely. This recording can prove whether Vakhania really oppressed the journalist or not and whether the journalist made correct testimony to the court. The film shows it very clearly. I think they refused to include the audio-recording to the case materials for that reason,” said the journalist and author of the film “Spy Syndrome” Vakhtang Komakhidze.

Logically, the court was to be attentive about similar document. Furthermore, the charge under Article 154, Part II is based on this testimony. Besides that, including of the evidence to the case materials could estimate whether journalist Lela Khubulava was right in her testimony. However, the court did not consider these circumstances.

“We expected from this process the decision on including the video-recording to case materials. We have long practice on blaming people for illegal possession of weapon but this case is an exception because there is a video-proof that is rare occasion in court practice. There is a video-recording which demonstrate the innocence of the convicted. It shows how special unit officers (several tens of people) rushed into Vakhania’s house. That means, the version of the prosecutor is absolutely wrong. The prosecutor said that two investigators arrived at the house and searched it. What happened at the Appeal Court (refusal on the solicitation) demonstrates that the court is not interested to estimate the truth. The video-recording was very important because they could not deny what is recorded there,” said leader of the Conservative Party Kakha Kukava.

Case Which Was Fabricated

Sergei Kovaliov, former public defender of Russian Federation, the head of human right organization, assessed the case of Vakhania as a fabricated one. On December 25 he attended the trial at Kutaisi Appeal Court together with EU observer.

The Human Rights Centre interviewed Kovaliov soon after the trial.”Political interest is obvious here. I saw all the documents attached to case materials and I was surprised. Let’s follow the facts logically: They seized passport from the person and declare to him that he cannot travel abroad, and he should stay at home. After that, the man goes home, puts the gun under the pillow and waits for the police to come and arrest him? This is absurd. Obviously it is fabricated case. Fabricated is the charge on threatening the journalist; if he really did it, how the journalist dared to come to his house alone? Many questions were not answered. There is much farce here…As for solicitation of the lawyers on including new materials to the case; I think that it should have been satisfied. The proofs are too convincing and they could help the investigation. Thus, all abovementioned circumstances make me think that the situation is different. This is political interest”.

Political parties have already evaluated arrival of Kovaliov in Georgia to attend the trial on Vakhania. Kakha Kukava clarifies: “The fact that Kovaliov, famous human rights defender, attended the trial is very important. We had some negotiations with him. He will inform other human rights organizations about this fact. The most important is that, Kovaliov has connection with liberal media of Russian Federation, which has great influence in the world. We negotiated with them and within the several weeks they will show on Russian TV-channels what Russian human rights defenders saw here. Kovaliov pointed out that during Shevardnadze’s government he had no problem to meet prisoners in the custody. He arrived in Georgia the day before yesterday at night. Yesterday, he could not get in touch with any of officials not to mention his meeting with prisoners. Kovaliov said the situation in this field has worsened in Georgia“.

***

The defense side requests to abolish the judgment of the Zugdidi District Court. According to the lawyers the documents which are in case materials are not enough to accuse Vakhania. Lali Aptsiauri stated: “The investigation was illegal from the first day and it continued later. The principle of fair trial was breached in the court of first instance; they ignored the Criminal Code of Georgia and Human Rights Convention. The government tries to get rid of Vakhania from political life. He is a political prisoner”.

The lawyers of Vakhania will continue to defend his interests on January 15, 2010, at the trial in Kutaisi Appeal Court.

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Name: ნანული ვახანია
2012-01-22 15:36
2009 წ.18 აგვისტოს თბილისის საპყრობილედან ზუგდიდის სასამართლო პროცესზე ჩამოიყვანეს უმძიმესი ავდმყოფი, ტყავ-ძვალი, მკაფიო ვითელი, შავი-ლურჟ მტევნებიტ, ფრჩხილებით, სახით,ტუჩებით,გამობერილი ვენებით ხელებზე და კისერზე!მაფრამ ამას არ დასჯერდა მდევნელი - 11 სექტემებრს, განაჩენის გამოტანის დღეს სასამრთლო დარბაზში კიდევ უფრო გაშავებული,და დამოუკიდებულად რომ ვერ გადაადგილდებოდა ისეთი შემოიყვანეს!იმ დღეს 2 ჯერ შეიყვანეს ვენაში 2 უცნობი ნიფთი - და იმ დრესვე თბილისის საპყრობილეში წაიყვანეს, მიუხედავატ მისი ტხოვნისა გადაედოდოთ ეტაპირებალოთ იყო!" აკადემიკოსი ვლადიმერი ვახანია მკვდარი მოავენესო"- უთხრა "კრიტის" 20 საკანის პატიმარმა მის მშობელს. ამის შემდეგ ვლადიმერის წამება არ შეწყვეტილა!2012 წ. 21 იანვარი.
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