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The News in Brief

Wednesday, November 12
Bill “On Amnesty” submitted to Parliament

On Tuesday Parliamentary committees will start considering the bill “On Amnesty.” This is a Presidential initiative, Black Sea Press was informed by the Parliamentary Administration.

Parliament is supposed to pass the bill on Friday. According to preliminary information, up to three thousand prisoners will be released on November 23.

The amnesty will be for those imprisoned for offences under thirty-five articles of the Criminal Code of Georgia, dealing with pseudo-entrepreneurship, monopolist activity, illegal use of trade marks, illegal use of a credit card, drug consumption, the purchase and manufacture of an official document or award and some military crimes. The amnesty will also concern persons sentenced conditionally, but not those sentenced for felonies.

At present the non-Parliamentary opposition has refrained from commenting on this bill, but it says that talks have been held on adding some more articles to the list. A list of 20 persons to be pardoned, including journalist Shalva Ramishvili, Maya Topuridze, Tamaz Bakuridze and persons who were detained during the rally on November 7, 2007, has been delivered to the President of Georgia. The opposition states that if the amnesty does not include the abovementioned persons, it will be amnesty for amnesty’s sake and they will not accept it. Representatives of the Parliamentary majority do not agree that amnesty for amnesty’s sake has been announced, as 2,700 people will be pardoned.

Head of the Interior Ministry of Georgia Vano Merabishvili was the first to announce the forthcoming large scale amnesty at the sitting of the Parliamentary Committee on Judicial Issues on October 30. “By November 23 a rather serious amnesty has been planned. I think to a certain degree this will improve the penitentiary system. Despite the fact new jails have been built, this does not completely resolve the problem of prison standards for inmates,” Merabishvili noted.

According to Merabishvili, until the present time the Department has considered that amnesty and pardon must be kept to a minimum. “It was considered that there was a high level of criminality in society and traditionally criminals released ahead of their term reoffended. But we are now working seriously in this new direction and hope some hundreds of persons who are not dangerous to society will be released by November 23,” he noted.

This year on November 23 Georgia will mark the fifth anniversary of the “Rose Revolution.” It should be noted that the last time a law on amnesty was passed was on November 29, 2007. The amnesty involved approximately 3,000 persons, 1,000 of whom were released from prison and approximately 2,000 having their sentences commuted. (Black Sea Press)

State Minister denies that reservists participated in battles

State Minister of Georgia for regional issues David Tkeshelashvili has stated that reservists did not participate in battles in August in the Tskhinvali region. Tkeshelashvili submitted this information to the Temporary Parliamentary Commission which is investigating the events of August.

“The tasks of mobilizing reservists and subsequently transporting them to their places of gathering were within the competence of local authorities. The Defence Ministry of Georgia was responsible for the reservists from then onwards,” Tkeshelashvili noted.

“The reservists were not intended to be sent to the front line and, as far as I know, there were no reservists at the frontline. We lost nine reservists, seven of them dying in Senaki as the result of bombardment by Russian Air Forces and two in Gori. Thus they did not participate in battles,” the State Minister said.

“Reservists helped us to evacuate the wounded and civilians who suffered as a result of the destruction of civil objects, they participated in the provision of necessities and in the settlement of some problems which appeared in the operational regime,” Tkeshelashvili said. He added that, “on August 8 the reservists’ planned retraining began, and depending on the situation a certain number of them were available for service. Later on August 8 a decision was made to mobilize reservist forces. 12,163 persons were called up, including those who were on planned training, and 9,000 reservists were mobilized on that day,” the State Minister stressed. (Black Sea Press)