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Prosecutorsí Office will investigate cases on property seizure

By Ana Robakidze
Thursday, November 1
Transparency International Georgia continues to work on illegal property seizure facts in the country. The organizationís web-page reports that in 2009-2010, local landowners in Anaklia were put under pressure by government officials, forcing them to give away their property. While in Sairme, landowners were pressured by the representatives from the local prosecutorís office.

Transparency International has provided video footage of the victims. In one of the videos Tornike Bubuteishvili speaks of how Zaza Gorozia promised him an alternate piece of land in exchange for the land the government took away from him and where the Anaklia Hotel is built now.

Another victim, an IDP from Abkhazia, Tamaz Shonia, was called to the local prosecutorís office and forced to write an official statement saying that he wanted to abandon the land given to him by the government in 2010.

According to the State Public Registrar, about 20 owners in the Sairme resort forwarded their property to the government within a week only. The video footage published by Transparency International shows victims accusing in the intimidation local prosecutorís office and particularly prosecutor Kakha Svanidze.

Tamaz Basiladze resident of Sairme, who owned a small hotel in his town, was called to Kutaisi at Svanidzeís office, where he was told to give away his hotel and the surrounding yard in favor of the state. The landowner was promised an alternative land in Sairme; however, Svanidze refused to provide any official paperwork as a guarantee that Basiladze would receive the promised property.

Archil Kbilashvili, the newly appointed chief prosecutor announced to InterpressNews, that all cases of unlawful land seizures in Anaklia will be investigated by his office. All victims are asked to apply to the prosecutorís office and request an investigation of their cases. As soon as the political reshuffling is over, the newly appointed prosecutors will start their investigation on abuses of property rights.

Transparency International Georgia has also published an official statement made by Shota Bigvava, the former Deputy Chief of the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti Public Registry Zugdidi office. The letter informs that Zaza Gorozia, Governor of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region, monitored the whole process of unlawful property seizure in Anaklia. He also tried to force Bigvava to destroy (by burning) archived documents confirming the rights of landowners. The Deputy Chief as well as the Chief of the Public Registry Zugdidi office, refused to destroy the documents and both were dismissed from the post within a short period of time.

Transparency International Georgia is actively involved in the investigation of the problem and continues collecting similar cases. The organization calls on the new government to set up a special investigating commission to work on property seizure cases.