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Feudal in Cassock

15.03.2010
Gela Mtivlishvili

According to annual reports of the Public Defender of Georgia, despite the guarantees in the current legislation, the number of violation of property rights is increasing in Georgia. Recently, Orthodox Church of Georgia has been involved in this process very actively. As a result of the oppression of law enforcement officers, citizens have to assign properties to eparchies for free.

Case of Khakhutashvilis

On April 17, 2008 Solomon Khakhutashvili purchased one hectare of land on the way to Nekresi Monastery Complex in the village of Shilda in Kvareli district, Kakheti region at the auction. Kakheti regional department of State Property Registration and Privatization evaluated the plot for 90 GEL. In accordance to the Law on Privatization of Land Khakhutashvili paid a reduced price to half of the amount since he paid earlier then the due time. On April 24, 2008 Solomon Khakhutashvili registered the land as his property at the Kvareli registration office of National Agency of Public Registration.

The Khakhutashvilis owned the plot under lease before purchasing it at the auction. The lease agreement between Solomon Khakhutashvili and Kvareli district administration became disputable only in January of 2008. According to case materials, district administration abolished the lease agreement with Khakhutashvili because of unpaid lease installments; Khakhutashvili appealed the district court. At the main court hearing Khakhutashvili showed the documents on paid lease installments. After essential case discussion district administration recognized the suit of the opposite side. Judge Olia Sepiashvili passed the verdict on January 15, 2008 and satisfied the suit of Khakhutashvili; the plot remained in his possession. The parties did not appeal the judgment and it is in force.

The Khakhutashvilis faced a second problem in regard with the land in December of 2009.

“On December 24, 2009 village governor Ramaz Lamazoshvili visited us at home. He said that the deputy chairperson of Kvareli municipality board Zaza Lomidze had sent him and asked us to go with him. My wife and I went to the municipality board. Lomidze told us that we had to give up the plot, which we purchased in 2008, for free. If we won’t do that, the land will be seized from us and if we start an argument our family will share the fate of the Girgvlianis. I asked the deputy chairman who wanted our land to negotiate with him. Lomidze did not tell us the name. So, we refused to give up the property,” said the wife of Solomon Khakhutashvili, Manana Khakhutashvili.

Zaza Lomidze, deputy chairperson of the Kvareli municipality board: “I have close relationship with Nekresi and Hereti Episcope. Father Sergi told me the eparchy needed the land located close to the entrance of Nekresi Monastery. They planned to construct a museum, car-park and dinner-house for the monastery. I invited Khakhutashvilis and asked them to assign the plot to the eparchy; they refused but I did not threat them.”

After the deputy chairperson heard the refusal from the Khakhutashvilis, the district governor Levan Gamsakhurdia met with them. “The district offered us to give us a different plot in exchange of ours. He even promised to employ our daughter, but we refused,” said Manana Khakhutashvili.

Levan Gamsakhurdia, Kvareli district governor: “The Church needed the plot. Tourism should be developed. I really offered the Khakhutashvilis a different plot instead of theirs near the entrance to the Nekresi Monastery, but they refused. I did not get in touch with them since then.”

After that, Kakheti regional prosecutor’s office took up the case.

Solomon Khakhutashvili: “On January 8, 2010 we were called to Kakheti regional prosecutor’s office. The deputy prosecutor Vazha Maghradze and the investigator Ilia Jangualshvili met with us. Maghradze asked us the price of the land; I said 10 000 USD. He said we had bought the plot for 45 GEL and asked us why we were going to sell it for 10 000 USD. Then he said it was impossible to speak with us and would attend to this affair themselves,” said Maghradze.

On January 11, 2010 Kakheti regional prosecutor’s office launched criminal investigation. According to the prosecutor’s office of Georgia the investigation was launched under Article 332, Part I of the Criminal Code of Georgia by the officers of Kakheti regional department of State Property Registration and Privatization. According to official information, the basis for the investigation was operative information.

“On April 17, 2008 with the support of Kakheti department of State Property Registration and Privatization, Solomon Khakhutashvili purchased one hectare of land (pasture) in the village of Shilda in Kvareli district for 45 GEL. The investigation concluded that the agreement from November 10, 2010, based on which Solomon Khakhutashvili owned the abovementioned plot, is illegal and signed through violation of the law. More precisely, in accordance to the current law, after permanent commission on leasing out the land discussed the issue of assigning the plot to the citizen under lease-agreement. In this case, the requirement of the law was blatantly breached. More precisely, the district administration discussed the issue on leasing out the plot to Khakhutashvili on November 16, 2000 though the illegal agreement was already signed with him on November 16.

In parallel, the investigation concluded that in order to hide the abovementioned violation in April of 2008 Solomon Khakhutishvili submitted one falsified person of above mentioned agreement in Property Department. More precisely, the date of the agreement was corrected and it was shown that the agreement was formed in December, 2000”, stated in the office of chief prosecutor.

Solomon Khakhutashvili: I have not falsified the agreement. I wrote eleven with Roman numerals and the office of chief’s prosecutor added one line and made eleven month to twelve, as it was December. They wanted to accuse me by this fact. There is 10 November in any other agreements of other persons. If they issued the lease-agreement by violation of the law in 2000, I do not know why I am to blame for this, when they confirmed that on the meeting later. District Administration delivers issue on leasing out the plot, it confirms the agreement too, and I have only signed it”.

According to Tamar Kordzaia, the lawyer of Young Lawyers Association of Georgia, Kakheti Region chief prosecutor’s office did not have right to launch the criminal case.” First of all we should emphasize the circumstance that Kakhutashvilis legally bought the plot, they have relations with administrative department. Administration Department delivered the document (privatization agreement), which proved that the person owned the plot. Legislation calls this kind of acts outfit acts. According to the legislation, there are very difficult processes to annul this kind of acts. More, if this kind of act turns out illegal, legislative person proves the legal confidence principle to protect private person’s interests, according to it, which is practically impossible to annul this kind of interests, if the interests of other person are not violated. We can see in the case of Khakhutashvili that other person’s interests were not restricted during transferring the plot. As for the remoteness terms, we should mention that there are not signs of crime, but if there are crimes,” All the terms according to criminal procedural legislation were expired”, states Kordzaia.

We requested the report of the meeting from November 16, 2000 from Khvareli Municipality board to prove when Khvareli District Department discussed on the lease-agreement of Khakhutashvili. Khvareli District department informed us on January 26, 2010 that Kakheti Region Chief Prosecutor’s office took the documents on January 11, 2010.

We requested the copies of documents of Solomon Khahutashvili’s case from Kakheti department of State Property Registration and Privatization. Koba Burkiashvili, the head of the department informed us by letter on January 29, 2010, that Kakheti Region Chief prosecutor’s office took the documentation on January 11, 2010 13:55 pm, according to the order of Telavi district court on January 11.

It turns out, that the criminal case was launched in Kakheti Region office of chief prosecutor on January 11, 2010. Investigation found out the details on the same day, which documents they should request and from where. The office of chief’s prosecutor prepared a solicitation and applied to the Telavi district court. The judge discussed the appeal and immediately, granted the appeal and made a decision too. Besides that, the investigator managed to visit to Kakheti department of State Property Registration and Privatization, also to Khvareli district department with the decision and took documentation before 13:55 pm.

We requested the case materials from Khvareli district court on January 26, 2010, where Solomon Khakhutashvili requested to the lease-agreement to be annulled. We tried to find out which issues Khvareli district department discussed at the meeting on November 16, 2000.

Nanuli Tukhashvili, the spokesperson of the court submitted our application to the head of court Olia Sepiashvili. We waited about two hours and after that Tukhashvili refused to study the case materials:” According to the 28 article of administrative code, the public information is opened, except the occasions, which are envisaged by the law and the information which belongs to the state, private or commercial secrets. According to the article 44 of the criminal code, public department is obliged not to spread private information without the person’s consent or without the well- grounded decision of court. Besides that, we should envisage that according to article 41, part 2 of Georgian constitution, the information in the official records, which is connected with the health of a person, his/her finances or about other private issues, should not be public without the consent of the person. If the case materials have facts about the health, finances or other private issues of the person, the court cannot grant the mentioned issues without previous consent letters of the both sides”, is mentioned in court’s letter.

Tamar Kordzaia, the lawyer: “The decision of the court about keeping the case materials in secret does is not comply with the legislative requirements, because they collected the information groundlessly and unreasonably. It is important to note that the case is already completed and furthermore, one part in the case is administrative body. Consequently, there is always legitimate interest of society about similar cases and the trials should be open for everybody.”

On January 28, Solomon Khakhutashvili’s wife Manana Khakhutashvili called and asked us to stop working on their case. “They threatened to arrest my husband for fabricating the documents unless we stop cooperation with journalists.”

Zakaria Butiashvili, attorney of Solomon Khakhutashvili: “From 11th to 30th January I was called to Kakheti regional prosecutor’s office three times. Deputy regional prosecutor was curious whether my client had changed his position and whether he was ready to assign the land to the Nekresi and Hereti Eparchy. If this would had happened, the prosecutor promised me to drop the investigation for the lack of evidence. I refused all three times.”

According to the Kvareli district office of Public Registration, on February 9, 2010 Solomon Khakhutashvili assigned the land to the Nekresi Eparchy of Georgian Patriarchate as a gift. The land was accepted by Ilia Japoshvili, representative of the Eparchy.

Journalistic investigation was prepared within the project of Studio “Monitor”
With financial support of EU.

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2011-09-29 17:42
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