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Political Shackles or Implications for the Release of General Kobaladze

12.01.2010
On January 11, Tbilisi City Court passed verdict on the rebels of the Mukhrovani Mutiny. 41 soldiers and civilians were detained for the attempted state coup and military mutiny in May of 2009. 20 of them were released as a result of plea bargain at various times.

Judge Jemal Kopaliani at Tbilisi City Court released Koba Kobaladze from the court room without any bail and fine. Davit Sulkhanishvili received his bail back and was imposed with three-year suspended sentence and fine of 20 000 GEL. Other 19 accused were sentenced to imprisonments from 2 to 11 years.

Unlike Kobaladze, irons were not removed from the accused Koba Otanadze and Levan Amiridze in the court room. The judge turned out to be very strict in regard with them. Otanadze was sent to prison for 29 years and Amiridze for 28 years.

Prosecutor Robert Grigalashvili requested 13-year-imprisonment for Kobaladze for his participation in the Mukhrovani Mutiny. For illegal storage of weapon he requested additional 1, 5 year for him. Judge discharged Kobaladze from participation in the mutiny and imposed imprisonment of 8 months and 6 days for illegal storage of weapon. Thus, the time he had spent in prison before judgment was passed turned out enough for the punishment.

Koba Kobaladze was detained on May 5, 2009 when he was interviewed by a journalist. The basis for the detention was testimony of Gia Ghvaladze. According to the testimony Kobaladze was discussing the plan of mutiny together with him in a restaurant in Mtskheta. Ghvaladze’s testimony was the only evidence against Kobaladze. However, more valuable evidence worked against him – statement of the minister of internal affairs and president of Georgia.

In the evening of May 5, 2009 Minister Vano Merabishvili reported to the President Mikheil Saakashvili” “Some of them are already detained and we are currently detaining the rest of them; these people are accused in the connection with Russia; among them is General Kobaladze.” Saakashvili interrupted Merabishvili after he mentioned Kobaladze. “We had to pay attention to General Kobaladze long before.”

Attorneys of Kobaladze withdraw recording of phone calls from mobile phone companies and they proved that their client was not in Mtskheta at the time. However, it was much more difficult to provide claiming against the statements of high-ranking political officials. Thus, it was a surprise for his attorneys when Kobaladze was released from the court room. It was bigger surprise for opposition parties and civil society thinking skeptically about judiciary system. People (members of the Movement November 7), gathered in front of the iron fence of the City Court for the protest demonstration, got confused for some time.

Release of Kobaladze covered the judgments on Otanadze, Amiridze and others. Political motive of the Mukhrovani case was proved by this decision. Governmental officials reached their aim; the society started to think about impartiality of the judiciary system positively.

By punishment of Otanadze-Amiridze, declared to be the organizers of the mutiny (the third organizer Gia Krialashvili was punished most severely and law enforcement officers killed him during special operation), the government warned Georgian soldiers.

By releasing Koba Kobaladze from the court room the government showed their opponents and society which do not trust the judiciary system that the judiciary authority is independent in Georgia and the judge passes judgments without any oppression – otherwise he could not release Kobaladze?
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