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Georgians in Malaysia face Death Penalty

By Salome Modebadze
Monday, November 1
Basic information about the young Georgian women arrested for carrying large amounts of Methamphetamine (a highly addictive central nervous system stimulant) in Malaysia was released exclusively by Real TV on October 29. In a special report the TV station showed the thorough information it had gathered on the detainees through interviewing a number of people connected with them.

26-year-old Babutsa Gordadze detained on Penang Island and 37-year-old Darejan Kokhtashvili detained on Borneo now face the threat of the death penalty according to Malaysian legislation for carrying 10.5 kilos of Methamphetamine (also known as Syabu) worth USD 3 million on the black market.

According to information provided by members of Gordadze’s family, the two women had left for Turkey where they had been met by Gordadze’s husband Eldar Davitiani on October 11. Previously accused for robbery, Gordadze’s parents and sister claimed Davitiani had deceived his wife into traveling to Malaysia for some negotiations.

Kokhtashvili’s daughter also said her mother had gone to Turkey with her friend but she knew nothing about any other plans. According to other sources Kokhtashvili had tried to leave for Turkey several times before and as she was in debt, she sold her apartment in Varketili.

Representatives of the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) which has been investigating the case refrained from releasing names until the investigation is complete. According to information released by Giorgi Tabatadze, the Director of the Counsel Department of MFA, the two detainees traveled from Istanbul to Morocco to Cameroon then Malaysia and were examined by Malaysian customs officials. Denying the accusation, the Georgian detainees explained they were only visiting Malaysia as tourists and given a bag in which the drugs had been hidden in picture frames.

Preparing to appeal to international organisations, Public Defender of Georgia, Giorgi Tugushi promised he would use every possible resource to help the two women arrested in Malaysia. “Support from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International will be crucial for us. In light of the fact that Malaysia has no ombudsman’s office we have also decided to contact the Asian Ombudsmen Association for further support,” Tugushi said worrying that Malaysia has not joined the various human rights conventions.

Requesting the extradition of the Georgian women, Tugushi criticised the inhumane act, which according to the European Council and other international organisations is unanimously condemned. “I think if we are supported by international organisations we will achieve the particular purpose. There have been very few cases of capital punishment in the whole world; there have been several precedents in Asian countries but only in the rarest cases,” Tugushi said stressing it would be absolutely unsatisfactory to carry out this method with Georgian citizens.

Georgia has no diplomatic cooperation with Malaysia which makes it difficult for our country to negotiate the extradition of the two arrested women. The trial of Darejan Kokhtashvili and Babutsa Gordadze will be held on November 3.

Since the adoption of the law on capital punishment in Malaysia in 1975 through until 2009 there have been 300 cases of the death penalty being carried out. The women can only avoid capital punishment if they are able to prove they did not purposefully commit the crime and were unaware they were carrying drugs.