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The News in Brief

Wednesday, October 21
Amendments in jury trial procedures discussed

Legal experts, lawyers, judges, and non-governmental organizations gathered at the Holiday Inn hotel in Tbilisi to discuss draft amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedures concerning jury trial worked out by the Ministry of Justice.

The preliminary report prepared by a Canadian legal expert on the issue was at the centre of the discussion.

In his presentation, Nikolai Kovalev, Associate Professor of Criminology of Wilfrid Lourier University and an expert on comparative criminal justice, law reform and international human rights, said that although the existing legislation grants right of the jury trial to everyone accused for a crime which is punishable by the deprivation of their liberty, the draft suggests reducing types of such crime to only 24, out 140. Other crimes, some of them punishable by up ten years in jail, are not included on the list.

Even after meeting with the government officials and at the Supreme Court, he couldn’t find an answer as to how the authors of the draft selected those 24 crimes and ignored others, Kovalev said at the conference organized by the Open Society Georgia Foundation on Friday.

Another issue concerns an article in the draft that removes a ban on policemen, lawyers and investigators to be selected for the jury. Kovalev believes that this might create grounds for the lack of impartiality.

The next issue concerns the openness of the jury members’ selection procedures. Kovalev suggests that if potential jury members have problems with their personal details, their names can remain anonymous during selection, but shutting down the process altogether may not be the best way out of the situation.

The Ministry of Justice also proposes to change the form of the jury decision format, requiring more specifications in the verdict; some of them necessitate legal knowledge to some extent. Currently it can issue a general verdict, simply stating whether the defendant is guilty or not. Kovalev raises doubts that this might cause confusion as the jury members are not expected to have a legal background.

Giorgi Burjanadze, a lawyer at OSGF, leading the discussion, raised concerns over the possibility to appeal decisions made by the jury at the Appeals Court where a single judge is entitled to abolish it.

Another concern is that whereas the defendants are granted the right to request a jury trial throughout Georgia, the draft offers this option without restriction only in several cities – Tbilisi, Batumi, Poti, Rustavi, Telavi and Gori. The High Council of Justice will issue permission for jury trials elsewhere in the country.

Nikolai Kovalev stated that his report was not finalized as he continues to collect information and opinions from the judges and government representatives, as well as legal experts. He expects to deliver final report and recommendations in ‘several weeks’. (DF watch)

African swine fever is spread in Georgia –Rospotrebnadzor

The Russian Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing (Rospotrebnadzor) has destroyed American pork products, which according to the agency, was brought to Russia via Georgia.

The spokesman for the Rospotrebnadzor, Alexey Kharin, said that they checked a vehicle loaded with 20 tons of American pork products in the Omsk Oblast, at the Russia-Kazakhstan border, during which it became clear that the products did not have the necessary labels. According to the documents, the American products were brought to Georgia and then to Kazakhstan.

"The problem is the fact that currently export of pork products from Georgia to Russia is prohibited, as African swine fever is spread there. Therefore, it was decided to destroy the products in a special oven," said Kharin. (IPN)

Georgian judoka wins gold at Paris Grand Slam

Georgia is continuing to make its mark in the sporting arena and continuing to impress the world with their skills in contact sports.

After claiming gold at the recent World Wrestling Championship and performing outstandingly at the Rugby World Cup, Georgia has now become a big winner at the most prestigious international judo competition.

Georgia’s Varlam Liparteliani defeated five opponents, including two home favourites, and was crowned champion of the 90kg weight category at the International Judo Federation (IJF) Paris Grand Slam in France.

Liparteliani, who previously won silver at the World Championships in Rio de Janeiro in 2013, gold at the Grand Slam Paris in 2013 and gold at the European Championships in Montpellier in 2014, defeated France’s Alexandre Iddir in the final.

On his way to the final, Liparteliani also defeated another French judoka as well as Russian, Estonian and Serbian athletes.

As well as being crowned world champion, the Georgian athlete gained 500 international ranking points.

More than 400 judokas from 84 countries competed at the Paris Grand Slam. (