The Ruling Party Continues Abusing Justice for Political Vendetta in the Pre-election period
GDI would like to respond to the 07/09/2021 ruling of the Supreme Court of Georgia Chamber of Criminal Cases, which overturned the 2017 acquittal decisions of the Court of Appeals of the First Instance Court of Georgia, and sentenced the owner of the TV Formula and the Former Defense Minister of Georgia, Davit Kezerashvili 5 years in prison.
We note that Shalva Tadumadze, who served as the Prosecutor General of Georgia both, chaired the three-judge panel when the Court of Appeals heard the case, and when the case prosecutor appealed the first instance acquittal to the second instance court. According to the Public Defender of Georgia, this could be qualified as the conflict of interests: “If Mr. Tadumadze served as the prosecutor by the time Mr. Kezerashvili was charged (I am not intimately familiar with the case), if such circumstances emerge, I believe this to be a conflict of interests, and in line with my statement on Gigi Ugulava case, pending circumstances are similar in this case too, there is a high probability that if this case goes to the ECHR, the Court may find that the right to fair trial was infringed.”
Merab Gabinashvili and Levan Tevzadze heard the case besides Shalva Tadumadze in the three-judge panel. Merab Gabinashvili is closely associated with the “Clan”, an informal and powerful grouping in the judicial system of Georgia. He was among 10 candidates presented to the Parliament of Georgia in December 2018 without proper vetting. Then, this act caused an uproar in the Georgian public and acted as a powerful catalyst for discontent within the political leadership of the Georgian Dream party. The same could apply to Levan Tevzadze, often seen as a powerful member of the Clan. He got elected to the Supreme Court on a third attempt, and we observed interests of conflict during the previous competition rounds. Both at the national and the international levels, the selection of the judges serving in this Criminal Cases Chamber received negative feedback. This questions the fairness of the justice served by the trio on this, and on every other case they will hear in the future.
The signs of politically biased justice were further evidenced in the June 25, 2021, statement of the PM, Irakli Gharibashvili, regarding Davit Kezerashvili: “You acquitted him since I left [previous post as PM]. Now, it appears they will take care of it.” The PM’s statement could act as a direct order coming from the ruling party to carry out politicized justice. The Kezerashvili case is not the only case renewed in the civil courts following long-term delay. On September 06, Tbilisi City Court held another hearing of an ongoing money laundering case launched against Mamuka Khazaradze, Badri Japaridze and Avtandil Tsereteli.
We also note that criminal prosecution is ongoing against Nika Gvaramia, the Director General of Mtavari Arkhi TV and the father of Vakhtang Tsereteli, the Founder of TV Pirveli, Avtandil Tsereteli. The investigators also frequently interviewed Zurab Gumbaridze, the Director General of Formula TV. In this context, the ruling of the Supreme Court of Georgia is a direct confirmation that the freedom of media has deteriorated.
We call on the authorities to rethink irreversible threats that the politicized justice poses to the future of Georgia’s development perspectives, to reject the use of justice for political goals, including its use against critical media, to respect the rule of law, and to make sure election related processes take place in a fair environment.
The statement, that “Shalva Tadumadze served as the Prosecutor General of Georgia when the Court of Appeals heard the case, and when the case prosecutor appealed the first instance acquittal to the second instance court”, was factually inaccurate information, based on additionally searched sources.
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