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Article 111 stirs debate

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, June 20
Head of Georgian Bar Association, Zaza Khatiashvili, strongly criticized the current Georgian Government, calling it a "dreamy authority" regarding the changes in the Georgian criminal code. Khatiashvili stated that leaving the second part of Article 111 out of the legislation is a sign that lawyers' rights are still being violated and the state administration has no idea what real justice is.

Based on the above mentioned article, lawyers have no right to use search and seizure evidence.

"Two years ago, Shalva Shavgulidze, who is a member of the Georgian Dream, demanded the rejection of the article... However, now he supports the changes that practically leave the defense without rights. I am shocked... I cannot imagine how those people who had demanded the changes for years could change their views after coming to power," Khatiashvili stated.

Khatiashvili shifted his attention to various violations that, according to him have been carried out after the coalition's coming to power. He spoke about the crimes committed by policemen and stated that wrongdoing by law-enforcement are covered -up and they are not charged.

According to him, removal of the second part of Article 111 would help address this behavior. Criminals, including law-enforcement would be adequately punished.

"However, you (Georgian Dream) did not want to happen this and have granted more power to prosecutors, and left people without adequate defense," Khatiashvili said.

Khatiahsvili stated that the new government of Georgia permitted the country to go back to the feudal period and announced the organization of large-scale protests for defending lawyers' right.

Georgian Dream MP, Shalva Shavgulidze, stated that the tone used by Khatiashvili was not appropriate and the changes carried out in the law serve to restore justice and give equal rights to defenders and prosecutors.

Shavgulidze stressed that the changes adopted by the parliament were elaborated firstly at the Bar Association and addressed certain changes that would be positively reflected in the court system in Georgia.

According to him, through the changes lawyers will be more engaged in trials.

"In the case a lawyer missed a trial based on serious or less serious reasons, a judge had the right to dissolve him. Based on the current changes, if the reason of absence in reasonable concerning the lawyer, the trial is postponed for up to 10 days," Shavgulidze stated, adding that the lawyers will have the right to appeal the verdicts or some decisions without their clients' approval.

"Lawyers had to write 30 page appeal documents and in the case the client’s signature was absent, they would not be able to pass it to the relevant bodies," Shavgulidze stated.

He emphasized that several indirect pieces of evidence will not be taken as a proof if they are not strengthened with some material. Shavgulidze highlighted that Lien appeals are also possible, when they were prohibited under the leadership of the previous government and various fines have been reduced from 5,000 GEL to 500 GEL.

Concerning Article 111, Shavgulidze stated that lawyers have no right to conduct searches and use evidence.

"However, there is a norm that the defence lawyers can represent evidence at the trial that was not known to the prosecution. I am talking about "sudden evidence", when accusers are obliged to familiarize the defence with all the evidence. From September of 2014, lawyers will be able to address the judge with the demand of conducting research on certain evidence and the searching procedures will be carried out by an investigator who is not linked with the case. When the norm comes to power, the norm on "sudden evidence" will be removed in an effort to maintain equality between the defense and prosecution," Shavgulidze said.

Head of the Georgian Young Lawyers' Association, Kakha Kozhoridze, told The Messenger, that despite the various positive changes in the code of practice, the defence and prosection are not in equal position.

"We support lawyer demands that the second part of Article 111 be removed. As for the suggested alternative that from 2014 lawyers will be able to appeal to the judge for carrying out search and seizure operations, there is one noteworthy aspect: if evidence is obtained, it should be seen by the defense side first and not by the side who demanded the search and seizure. The GYLA is going to prepare an appeal against the norm," Kozhoridze said.