The trial of Gigi Ugulava, who represents the United National Movement and has been suspended from the Tbilisi mayor’s post, was postponed on June 5. The trial should have made a verdict regarding Ugulava’s reinstatement at the position. The reason of the delay was the absence of prosecutors. According to the judge, she has received an announcement from the 4 prosecutors that they were attending a seminar on cyber security issues in Batumi. Ugulava called the fact “shameful”. According to him, a real ground for missing the trial was red taping the process till the local elections that are scheduled for June 15.
Ugulava’s trial postponed due to prosecutors
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, June 6
After Ugulava was charged with the alleged misspending of 48.18 million GEL of public funds in 2011-2012, the Prosecutor’s Office filed two separate motions to the Tbilisi City Court in late December 2013. One of the motions was related to the detention of Ugulava, while the second aimed at suspending him from office. Based on the decision made by a judge, Ugulava had to quit his position.
However, on May 23 the Constitutional Court made the decision that Ugulava’s suspension from the Tbilisi mayor’s post was “unconstitutional” as he was an elected mayor. Following the verdict, Ugulava’s lawyer stated that the former mayor could address the court again for regaining his power. Ugulava claims that his aim is not to take the post again. He stresses that all his current actions are motivated by “principles”, just to prove that he was illegally “dismissed”.
Commenting on yesterday’s trial, Ugulava stated that the “shameful” situation once again confirmed his innocence and the “disfunction” of the Prosecutor’s Office.
The aspiration was shared by the members of the opposition party, United National Movement. UNM MP Giorgi Baramidze stated that the current government of Georgia is undermining the court system.
“Instead of improving the shortcomings the court system has at present, the government encourages more failures in the system,” Baramidze said.
The issue was less significant for the members of the Georgian Dream coalition. The coalition member Davit Saganelidze stated that it’s up to judges and their professionalism to make a verdict in terms of Ugulava.
“As for me, Ugulava has never been a mayor and I suppose for 99% of Tbilisi residents as well,” Saganelidze said.
The head of the Elections and Political Technologies Research Centre, Kakha Kakhishvili, believes that in December 2013 the judge should have made a decision regarding suspending the power through the presence of both sides, the defense and prosecution. However, according to him, the judge made the decision without any hearing of the defense’s argument. “Though, the judge did not violate the law as such, an amendment was introduced in the code under the UNM Government. Of course the amendment was a mistake, and now UNM members can obviously see it. Certain additional amendments are required in the legislation,” Kakhishvili states.