A Tbilisi City Court judge, Tamaz Urtmelidze, who has been presiding over the dispute filed by Kibar Khalvashi against the owners of the Rustavi 2 TV Company, refused to recuse himself from the case, after respondents stated he was biased.
Judge refuses to recuse himself from Rustavi 2 case
By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, October 21
The motion for the recusal of the Judge Urtmelidze was filed by Rustavi 2 TV lawyers, and was around two main arguments.
The first argument was related to the criminal case of judge Urtmlidze’s mother, Mdinara Giorgobiani, while the other referred to the negative Facebook posts made by Urtmelidze’s wife regarding the Rustavi 2 case on her profile.
Tamaz Urtmelidze rejected all the accusations, saying that Mdinara Giorgobiani is his mother only in a legal sense and does not consider her to be a member of his familyl he also added that his spouse’s comments were private and he was not aware of them.
Rustavi 2 TV, which claims that Khalvashi is in fact acting on behalf of the government and upon the instructions of the former Prime Minister, Bidzina Ivanishvili, claims that the government can exert significant pressure on Judge Urtmelidze over the criminal case filed against his mother.
The judge underlined that there is an “attempt to put pressure” on him from the side of the respondents.
“I was distanced from this legal proceeding from the very beginning, and I have not even been interested in this case,” he said.
During the hearing of the motion, Rustavi 2 TV chief executive, Nika Gvaramia, told the judge:
“I regret that I supported your appointment as a judge. My vote in favour of you was decisive. That’s one of the most ironic and cynical mistakes of my life.”
After several critical remarks, Gvaramia was expelled from the Court and he was followed by all the Rustavi 2 supporters who were attending the hearing.
After an 8 hour hearing, the judge made a decision that the case will be renewed on October 22.
Before the decision on scheduling the court sitting, the judge announced another decision. The plaintiff was ordered to submit documents which detail how Rustavi 2's shares are spread.
According to the respondents of Rustavi 2, it is possible that the judge will declare the final verdict on October 22.
It should be noted that the long lasting process at the court was ongoing on the background of the rally of Rustavi 2 supporters outside the Court.
Members of opposition parties, politicians, artists, celebrities and ordinary citizens were demanding the freedom of media and proclaiming their support for the broadcaster.