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Life prisoners demand attention

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, June 11
The relatives and family members of the inmates sentenced to life imprisonment held a rally outside the State Chancellery building on June 9. The rally aimed at declaring solidarity to those inmates who face life imprisonment. 47 prisoners announced a hunger strike on June 2. The inmates’ demands are related to their cases.

The relatives of the inmates say that the prisoners with life sentences have already sent letters to the Chair of the Parliament’s Judicial Committee, Vakhtand Khmaladze and the Minister of Justice Thea Tsulukiani. The inmates demand creation of the committee working on legal violations. They believe that their cases should be reconsidered. The Georgian Dream coalition had stated that it would form such a committee. However, after the parliamentary elections in 2012, the process was delayed. According to Tsulukiani, the main reason for the delay was the lack of financial support from the state budget.

Lawyer Gela Nikoleishvili states that after the 2012 large-scale amnesty, the sentences of life-imprisoned individuals was reduced by ?. However, according to the court’s decision, they are still looked at as life convicts.

“This is an ironic attitude towards the inmates,” Nikoleishvili says.

Commenting on the issue, Public Defender of Georgia Ucha Nanuashvili stressed that the issue of the category of inmates should be reconsidered. He shares the vision that the amnesty concerned all the inmates except them.

“The most sensitive is the fact that some of the life prisoner women are on hunger strike,” Nanuahsvili states.

According to the Head of the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), Kakha Kozhoridze, who is also a member of the State Pardon Committee, the regulations have already been amended in terms of life prisoners.

“Only after 15 years being in prison, the inmate might be pardoned. Only in such a situation, a case might be reconsidered. Previously it was 25 years instead of 15. Now the term has been reduced for reconsidering the cases,” Kozhoridze suggests.

The Head of the Press Service of the Ministry of Justice Maia Skhiladze told The Messenger that the ministry has never worked on the issues and the letter sent by the prisoners has not been submitted yet. She stressed that it is the parliament’s prerogative to work on this issue.