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PM: Jury system collapses

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, June 9
Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Gharibashvili said that the Jury Institution has failed and additional measures should be taken for improving the structure.

The PM made the statement in response to the notorious case of the late Lasha Makharadze, 25, who was shot dead on September 2, 2014 on Abashidze Street in the center of Tbilisi.

“The family of the killed individual ask for justice and their demand is absolutely fair. It’s unacceptable for me that the jury collapsed. We should address the issue as soon as possible,” Gharibashvili said.

The jury failed to rule out its verdict in the murder case on June 5, when the jury was given 13 hours to announce the final decision. However, Giorgi Okropiride, who is accused of murdering Makharadze, was neither found guilty nor acquitted.

The next court session is planned to be held as soon as possible, as the jury has to make its decision before June 12.

Okropiridze was detained a few days later, for committing murder in aggravated circumstances and for the illegal possession of a firearm. It is not the first trial for Okropiridze; in the past he served a prison sentence for premeditated murder. The latter denies charges, accusing his friend Vladimer Berdzenishvili. He also stresses that he did not commit any crime in the past and was detained due to political prejudice, as he claims to have been an opponent of the former state leadership.

Makharadze’s family is sure that Lasha was killed by Okropiridze. The late Makharadze’s mother Nino Didebulidze has addressed the PM, President, Parliament Chair and the head of the Supreme Court for not to let Okropiridze out.

She claims that the release of Okropiridze would be a serious threat to the country and the law-enforcement bodies as he is a very dangerous criminal.

Head of the Supreme Court Nino Gvenetadze refrained from commenting on the issue, naming the interests of the investigation as a reason.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Chief Prosecutor Irakli Shotadze said that the Prosecution has provided very trustworthy evidence against Okroporidze, but the jury failed to give a verdict.

“I believe that verdicts should be made by professional judges,” he said.

The jury trial was first introduced in Georgia in 2011 and it only applies to cases of rape, aggravated murder, as well as cases of murder committed in the “heat of passion”.

Residents from 18 to 70 years old could be a member of the jury. From the beginning, 100 men are selected by chance from the electoral register. Then, those persons, who have no right to be a jury member are excluded and finally 12 jury members and 2 reserves are chosen by the defence and accusatorial sides.

Politicians, officer of the law enforcement structures, lawyer, physiologist, psychiatrist or religious figure have no right to become a member of the jury.

The innovation in the court system has caused much controversy. Many still state that even those countries which have juries at courts are attempting to remove the system.