Dignity of the Prime-Minister has been Disgraced
A trial was held on 1 October 2004 in the Tbilisi Regional Court between Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania and the newspaper “Tavisupali Gazeti” (Free Newspaper). With the exception of demanding a costs reimbursement, which had been unexpectedly rejected by the representative of Mr Zhvania at the trial, the judge approved the decision taken by Didube-Chugureti District Court. Mr Zhvania demanded a retraction of the information about him which was reported by the newspaper and requested a GEL5000 sum as compensation for the inflicted moral injury.
The incident in question concerns the reports of 20-26 January 2004 which stated that “It is Zurab Zhvania standing behind the Football Federation, the Railway Department and the case regarding ore,” reporting further that “During his meeting with George Lezhava, Zhvania demanded USD 2 millions if Lezhava wanted to become the Chief of Railway Department” and “Zurab Zhvania conducts negotiations with Kurt, who is currently under international search.”
On 23 March 2004 Didube-Chugureti District Court made a decision regarding the above-mentioned case and satisfied Zurab Zhvania’s demand to retract the information disgracing his honor, dignity and reputation and to reimburse him GEL5000 for moral injury.
NGO "Article 42 of the Constitution" appealed against the sentence of the regional court in the name of “Tavisupali Gazeti”(Free Newspaper).
Representatives of the appellants stated in the regional court that the information provided by Mr Zhvania, in which he demanded a retraction of the newspaper reports, did not disgrace his honour, dignity and business reputation and that no moral injury had been inflicted on him by divulging this information. The demand of GEL5000 as a reimbursement, they stated, is groundless and, accordingly, the decision taken by Didube-Chugureti District Court should be annulled.
On ending the dispute, Mr Zhvania abolished his demand of GEL5000 as a compensation for moral injury. He shares all the rest of his demands. “The request of GEL5000 was, from the very beginning, so unreasoned and unfounded that I consider it logical that it was overturned. We mainly aimed at their action regarding the rejection of the information not to be satisfied” states the editor of “Tavisupali Gazeti,” Tamuna Lepsveridze.”
HumanRights.Ge: “Do you think that the court is under oppression?”
Ms Lepsveridze: “I am sure that the court is under suppression. When it reviews the action of the Prime Minister, I understand what he feels and what obligations he shoulders and I am not at all surprised that he is under scrutiny.”
It is a fact that on 1 October 2004 the Regional Court passed the sentence by which the decision of the Didube-Chugureti District Court has been partially changed. In particular, this part deals with imposing the compensation of GEL5000 for moral injury because the plaintiff revoked his demand.
As for the rejection of the information spread by the “Tavisupali Gazeti,” the decision taken by the Regional Court remains in power although the defendant does not plan to deny the facts. As Ms Lepsveridze reported in her interview, they are going to appeal the sentence of the Regional Court to the High Court and, if necessary, the case will be submitted to Strasbourg as well.
Ms Lepsveridze: “We shall appeal to the High Court by all means and shall observe the development of events… in any case we do not plan to reject the information.”