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NGOs to monitor high-profile cases

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, July 31
Transparency International Georgia will monitor the trials of Georgia’s former President Mikheil Saakashvili, former Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili, ex- Chief Prosecutor Zurab Adeishvili, ex-former Defence Minister Davit Kezerashvili and the ex-Mayor of Tbilisi Gigi Ugulava.

The Chief Prosecutor's Office of Georgia filed criminal charges against former President Mikheil Saakashvili on July 28. According to the Prosecutor's Office, the charges have been brought in relation to the dispersal of the rally in Tbilisi on 7 November, 2007 and a raid on a Tbilisi television station – Imedi TV and the illegal seizure of assets of the family of the deceased businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili.

“We should remember that all are equal before the law, if someone violates the law, this person must be punished. If there is no convincing evidence with regard to Saakashvili’s case, we will have many problems and the prosecutor’s office must take this aspect into account and it must do its best for to avoid any problems”, Gigauri stressed.

According to the Chairman of the Georgian Young Lawyers' Association (GYLA) Kakha Kozhoridze, GYLA will monitor trials as well with regard to high-profile cases.

“If the trials are not closed, we will monitor the trials and inform the public over the developments there,” Kozhoridze said.

Saakashvili’s and other former officials’ lawyers have already begun studying the cases.

Saakashvili’s lawyer Otar Kakhidze stated that he could not study the materials yet since it contained 80 chapters for each defendant and the documents were virtually identical.

"I was just given the charge sheets for Saakashvili and Adeishvili, which are practically identical, there is nothing new in those resolutions,” Kakhidze said. The lawyers state that former Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili is indicated in the list of witnesses on the criminal cases, as well as the former governor and journalist Vasil Maghlaperidze.

Member of the non-parliamentary minority National Democrats Bchuki Kardava stresses that it was not the right time for filing charges against Saakashvili, taking the international and domestic situation into account.

Such statements are taken as “groundless speculation” by the majority members, who stress that the current process is totally fair, transparent and timely. They assure that the Prosecutor’s Office will successfully deal with the situation and there will not be any question marks over the cases.