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Amnesty on agenda

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, January 15
The Ministry of Penitentiary and Corrections will not use its two-week term for transferring the amnestied inmates’ cases to the court. A statement concerning the issue was made by ministry representatives. According to them, delivering the cases has already been launched and in 4-5 days, the process will conclude. A statement regarding the release of political prisoners and large-scaled amnesty was also made by the US ambassador to Georgia Richard Norland.

“We have already delivered the cases of 600 amnestied inmates to the Civil Court. We are trying to deliver the cases step-by-step so the court will not to be overloaded,” deputy head of penitentiary department, Avtandil Mikanadze, said.

Mikanadze explained that the courts should discuss the cases within a two month time- frame and announce the outcomes to the ministry.

“As soon as we get the information we immediately fulfill it,” Mikanadze stated, adding that the courts will receive the cases of nearly 18,500 inmates.

Alongside, the Chief Prosecutor’s office will require a week to carry out the appropriate measures for lifting accountability from the persons who have been granted the status of political refugees. Badri Bitsadze, former border police chief, businessmen Bidzina Giorgobiani and Kibar Khalvashi are among those 25 persons. They have been living abroad for the past few years. The prosecutor’s office explained that it will take a week to wrap up the procedures for freeing these persons from criminal responsibility; some of these 25 individuals was convicted in absentia and are wanted by Interpol.

A portion of the political prisoners released under the large-scale amnesty on January 13, plan to apply to the prosecutor’s office and demand a re-investigation of their cases. Footballer Giorgi Demetradze who was accused in connection with criminal networks in 2010, plans to file a complaint against the senior officials who organized his detention; he will also demand monetary compensation.

Another former prisoner Levan Gogichaishvili plans to fight for restoring justice and political prisoner Vakhtang Maisaia intends to apply to the Hague court and hand over his case to the international military tribunal.

Parliamentary minority and the President of Georgia make warnings about the ongoing process and predict “unprecedented unprofitable outcomes” for Georgia. According to them, the crime rate will increase and the state security will face serious danger after Russian spies leave Georgia's penitentiary institutions. They also claim that Georgia’s international image will also be damaged, as no international organization has ever hinted at there being political prisoners inside the country.

US ambassador to Georgia Richard Norland told IPN that granting the status of political prisoners to 190 individuals was a sovereign decision made by the Georgian government and the US position is that the supremacy of law should be ensured.

The ambassador also underscored that Georgia’s democratic development and reforms are not being questioned from the US side due to the recognition of political prisoners.

“We have no basis to think so,” Norland said, adding that dangerous criminals should not be let out.

“However, we have information that the court will discuss and decide how dangerous an individual is to the public,” Norland said.