The messenger logo

Arguments continue over criminal bosses

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, January 13
The Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assistance of Georgia has released a special statement in response to the allegations and concerns of the opposition party, the United National Movement (UNM), on possible amendments to the law on criminal bosses. The ministry called the allegations absurd and made counter allegations to the former ruling party.

Mikheil Saakashvili’s government began an effort to root out the so-called thieves in law. The former president announced a ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards criminal bosses. The criminal code was amended. Being a member of the mafia and recognizing mafia mentality became crimes and tough sentences were used against them.

Vakhtang Khmaladze, head of the Judiciary Committee in parliament, said at a briefing on January 10 that these regulations are not well defined.

“I don’t like these regulations of law and I was very critical of them when they were established,” he said. He believes the law should define exactly what it means to be a thief-in law and adhering to the thief mentality.

“A person should be convicted for something directly related to a specific action. Let’s say that I like thieves in law and I like thief-relations, it is not correct if I am jailed for it,” he said on Thursday.

Opposition MP Nugzar Tsiklauri criticized him for this statement, accusing him of wanting to bring back the thief mentality in the country. The MP also stressed that so-called criminal bosses’ influence has increased in prisons since the Georgian Dream has taken office.

Responding to the statements made by the UNM, Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili stated that the law concerning the crime would not be revised.

Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assistance dedicated a long statement to the allegations, calling them “absolutely unfair and irresponsible.”

“The Georgian government has reiterated and confirmed its firm position regarding legislative norms and policy on the punishment of persons accused in connection to criminal networks,” the ministry statement reads.

The ministry also “reminded” the leaders of the United National Movement, that there is evidence proving close connection of the previous government with criminal bosses.