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Three foreign experts make conclusion over Saakashvili prosecution

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, October 28
Georgia’s chief prosecutor’s office has announced that three foreign prosecutors visiting Georgia have concluded that there is enough evidence to continue the criminal prosecution of former President Mikheil Saakashvili and three of his associates.

The Prosecutor’s Office has stressed that after months of reviewing materials related to the July 14, 2005 assault on Georgian Member of Parliament Valeri Gelashvili, an international prosecution advisory panel concluded that the current evidence provided by the chief prosecutor is “legally and factually sufficient” to justify proceeding with the prosecution of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, Former Georgian Minister of Interior Ivane Merabishvili, and former senior Interior Ministry officials Erekle Kodua and Gira Siradze for various offenses.

On July 14, 2005, armed, masked men attacked MP Valeri Gelashvili, who had recently published an article critical of then-President Mikheil Saakashvili. At the time, no substantive investigation was carried out and no perpetrators were arrested. The Prosecutor’s Office states that following the change in government in 2012, those carrying out the assault came forward and disclosed that they were all members of the Interior Ministry’s Special Operative Department and had been acting under orders. The Office of the Chief Prosecutor has collected evidence that it will present to the court linking the men directly to the attack on Valeri Gelashvili. These four were indicted on August 5, 2014 for the crimes of excess of power, executor and organizer liability, and misappropriation for the purpose of taking into possession of a firearm.

The International Prosecution Advisory Panel is composed of Sir Geoffrey Nice QC of the United Kingdom, Moshe Lador of Israel, and Paul Coffey of the United States. Nice was Deputy Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court of the former Yugoslavia; Lador served as State Prosecutor of Israel, while Paul Coffey used to be a Chief of the United States Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Section

At the initiative of the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia, the panel was formed in July 2014. Since that time, the panel has travelled to Georgia to discuss various cases with the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia and his team and has conducted a comprehensive review of case materials.

Giorgi Badashvili, Chief Prosecutor of Georgia, commended the panel for ensuring a thorough and just review of the materials. Badashvili said that “maintaining political independence is an underlying principle of this investigation, and this office. This esteemed international panel’s findings affirm that the Georgian justice system is operating in a fair and transparent manner.”

Member of the United National Movement Chiora Taktakishvili states that the conclusion is far from reality, as the Prosecutor’s Office paid for it. Taktakishvili states that the leaders of developed countries and reliable international institutions recognize that there is political persecution in the country.