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Prosecutor’s office appeals Ugulava verdict

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, February 27
The Tbilisi Civil Court has declined prosecutors’ request of suspending Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava from office. Ugalava is facing charges related to money laundering, as well as misspending and embezzling large amounts of public funds.

The prosecutor’s office provided explanations concerning the case of Ugulava on February 26. According to the statement made by Chief Prosecutor Archil Kbilahsvili, the decision made by the court concerning Ugulava was unfair and the prosecutor’s office is going to appeal it. Kbilashvili also made comments regarding the crimes committed by UNM officials and on well-known criminal cases.

The court stated, however, that the demands of the prosecutor’s office were groundless.

The prosecutor’s office demanded the suspension of Ugulava from office and bail to be set at GEL 1 million. They also requested that the court revoke his privileges for leaving the country. Kbilashvili explained why the prosecutor’s office did not demand that Ugulava be imprisoned as a preventive measure.

“We did not demand his detention as we respected the fact that Ugulava is an elected mayor. Our aim was not to see him behind bars and the issue to be attributed to political motivations,” Kbilashvili said.

However, Kbilashvili called the court’s decision illogical, stating that when an individual is accused of embezzling more than 20 million GEL, and he remains in a position of power, this carries with it serious risk.

“The risk itself proves that the prosecutor’s demand could not be unproved,” Kbilashvili said, adding that the decision will be appealed.

The chief prosecutor emphasized that the case puts the court system’s impartiality in question.

Kbilashvili underscored that until October 1, 2012, the court used to satisfy almost all motions of the prosecutor’s office. Since the elections, almost none of the motions of the prosecutor have been satisfied.

“Naturally this increases the criticism and [negative] attitudes towards the judiciary system regarding its independence,” Kbilashvili said.

Kbilashvili explained that currently five ministers of the former government– one mayor and 181 state officials– have been charged.

“From 2004-2012, there were 9,560 incidents when ‘grateful individuals’ gifted their properties to the state. All the issues are being investigated,” Kbilashvili stated.

On his behalf, Ugulava stated that all the accusations concerning him were absurd and the court’s decision was just. He added that the current government aimed to take control over the Tbilisi Mayor through his accusations in various “fabricated” crimes.

Ugulava’s lawyer, Gogita Gabaidze, stated that the accusations were not supported by evidence and that the chief prosecutor does not know the case well.