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Justice in Georgian way, i.e. threat against freedom

Monday, February 23
Following the report of the Georgian court’s decision to uphold claims made by Joseph Kay to control of Badri Patarkatsishvili’s estate, Badri’s family issued the following statement:

“We are outraged by the Georgian court’s decision today allowing Kay to continue his fraudulent attack on Badri’s heirs and his legacy. Do not be deceived by the judge’s attempt to make this decision appear as only a partial victory for Kay. In fact, the court gave Kay all he wanted despite all the evidence of his fraud. This decision had nothing to do with the administration of justice. It was a pre-determined political outcome.

The court ignored overwhelming evidence of forgery and fraud in the documents Kay uses to claim control of Badri’s estate. These copied documents are Kay’s only basis for making any claim, and the court was given clear and irresistible proof that the documents were forgeries. Furthermore, lawyers representing all of Badri’s heirs were unanimous in expressing to the court their clients’ opposition to Kay and his fraud. No one but this Georgian court and the Georgian government behind it supports Kay.

The court’s decision is consistent with the claims we have filed internationally that officials of the Saakashvili government conspire with Kay to maintain a government stranglehold on Badri’s TV station, Imedi. As Giorgi Jaoshvili has already told us all, government intimidation coerced his sale of Badri’s controlling shares in Imedi to Kay after the station had been seized and shut down by armed government agents. Later government officials threatened our family with continued harassment of the businesses Badri had built in Georgia if we did not agree with Kay’s claim to ownership of hundreds of millions of dollars of assets that Badri had created. Thus the government got control of the only independent national TV station in the country; one that had informed Georgians of the Saakashvili regime’s abuses of power. And, Kay was paid for his role in this government takeover by official pressures on the family to give him a vast portion of Badri’s wealth.

International observers have openly criticized the Georgian courts as being under the influence of the ruling regime. As one OSCE and EU advisor commented: ‘the Georgian courts are the subject of serious interference by the authorities, and cannot or will not act independently in cases in which there is either a political element, or where there are considerable amounts of money at stake’. The shameful judgment which the court handed down today simply confirms this observation. We are not the only victims of this political manipulation of justice. All citizens of Georgia face extreme risk when a few ruling officials can dictate whatever court judgments they desire.

We will continue our fight to see that justice is done, however. We have taken our reports of government expropriation and conspiracy in the Imedi case to international arbitration, under UN rules and beyond influence by Saakashvili’s ruling party. The Saakashvili government’s suppression of media freedom and its continuing violation of property rights cannot be tolerated. We are also exposing Kay’s cowardly fraud in courts around the world. Although he now hides behind a veil of Georgian government intimidation and the rulings of a compromised Georgian court system, he too will ultimately be brought to justice. The shame for all of us is that the government’s abuse of official power and Kay’s criminal acts are not being judged openly and fairly within Georgia itself, the country whose citizens are most injured by all of this.

You may have been told that this is only a legal battle among those who fight over Badri’s wealth. Do not believe this. This is a contest for basic justice and freedom from oppression by a ruling political regime. Kay is merely the puppet who was enlisted to do that regime’s bidding and is now being illicitly paid for his service. Badri spoke out against these abuses of political power and was punished for it. Today’s outrageous court ruling is just one further part of that punishment and one further effort toward silencing the opposition Badri expressed. We do not accept this and we encourage all Georgians to see this ruling for what it really is – a threat to livelihood and freedom from fear for all of us.”