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President makes last minute pardons

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, October 31
Minister of Correction and Legal Assistance, Sozar Subari, states that President Mikheil Saakashvili pardoned 248 convicts, including those who are wanted by law enforcement bodies. According to the minister, the president signed the pardon act on October 29.

‘Morally unjustified’

Minister Subari stresses that through the law the president had the right to pardon the convicts. However, Subari viewed Saakashvili’s behavior, whose presidential term has practically expired, as “morally unjustified”and “rough involvement” in the court’s issues.

“Naturally, it is a political decision when you pardon those people who have not spent a day in prison. This is a political battle and battle against the court,” Subari said.

The minister informed that the president pardoned Deputy Defense Minister Nikoloz Dzimtseishvili, brother of former Minister of Justice Zurab Adeishvili, Davit Adeishvili who is wanted by law-enforcement bodies, a convict who was accused in a famous crime of Buta Robakidze and some others.

Subari emphasizes that the pardon has its rules, legal and moral frames.

Majority’s assessments

“One more shameful decision” –the majority representatives mainly used this epithet while commenting on the pardon.

Majority member Tina Khidasheli stated that the president does not regret any of the wrongdoings that took place inside the country under his leadership.

Fellow representative of the coalition, Manana Kobakhidze, believes that the pardon of those people who are accused in famous crimes and the appropriation of state funds, indicate a great disrespect towards the public.

Minority makes parallels

UNM MP Akaki Minashvili stated that he was not going to comment on the assessments of the political force “which released Russian spies from prison.”

Minashvili underscored that since coming to power, the Georgian Dream coalition has made various anti-state decisions and granted freedom to the category of people who acted and will act against Georgia's interest.

“Moreover, the coalition tends to detain people for their political beliefs,” Minashvili said.

Unlimited power of president on pardon

The Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) explains that pardoning does not apply to a convict if:

1. He has been sentenced to deprivation of liberty as punishment for two counts of crime and has not served half of the punishment imposed;

2.He has been convicted for the first time, sentenced to up to five years of imprisonment and has not served 1/3 of the punishment imposed;

3. He does not plead guilty, feels no remorse for crime committed and does not petition for pardoning.

However, in paragraph. 7.2 of the Presidential Order, the president has the power to make the decision to grant a pardon without having to abide by the regulations.

The organization states that despite the fact the president had a right to pardon convicts, the constitutional principle implies that “discretionary presidential powers must be exercised according to a predetermined and clearly foreseeable criterion available to the general public,” prohibiting arbitrary exercising of the powers as one pleases. Any citizen of Georgia must be able to foresee decisions that state authorities will make under certain individual circumstances.

GYLA also states that Mikheil Saakashvili’s statements concerning the wrong verdicts made towards certain convicts by the court “may have an adverse effect on judicial independence and diminish its authority.”