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Ex-Chair of Pardon Commission says some GD politicians used to put pressure on him

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, December 10
An independent member of Tbilisi City Council and former Chair of State Pardon Commission, Aleko Elisashvili, stated that some politicians take money in return for granting pardons to some prisoners.

Elisashvili stated this during an interview on the Rustavi 2 TV show Archevani. He was invited to speak over the recent stir as to whether the Patriarch, Ilia II, should have the right to pardon prisoners or not.

He was summoned to the Prosecutor’s Office for his statements the next day. However, during the show on December 8, he said that he had already been summoned to the Office. Thus, his summoning the next day was news.

According to the MP, during his work in the Pardon Commission, several politicians from the Georgian Dream Coalition used to put pressure on him and demand the pardon of certain prisoners.

Elisashvili stated that these politicians received 200 000 USD in advance from the prisoners’ relatives or family members. In total they would get 1.5 million dollars if the deal was made.

Elisashvili asserts that he informed the former Chief Prosecutor Giorgi Badashvili and his first deputy Giorgi Gogadze about the case but they did not take his words into account.

“I told them the names of those people who paid money for the freedom of certain prisoners and the names of politicians who received money from them. I am going to reiterate everything today too,” claimed Elisashvili.

Elisashvili said this as one of the key reasons as to why the Patriarch should not have the right to pardon prisoners.

“There are many worthy spirituals in the Patriarchate. However, the Patriarchate is a big institution with different types of people and the politicians might use some of them for their own interests.

“As soon as it was stated that the Patriarch might have the right to pardon prisoners, the politicians - who used to exercise pressure on me - immediately revealed their positive attitudes towards such an initiative,” Elisahsvili said, refraining from providing names due to the interests of the investigation. However, he stated that his life might now be at risk.

Elisashvili said that he had informed Georgia’s Defence Minister and some other Georgian top officials concerning the politicians pressuring him. He also said that Georgia’s Parliament Speaker Davit Usupashvili might also have information concerning them.

Responding to the statement, Usupashvili said he would show any interest to the case, as he did not believe that “Elisashvili was not a man to speak false things.”

Elisashvili added that currently these politicians continue to put pressure on the current Chair of the Pardon Commission, Zviad Koridze.

Koridze does not exclude concrete cases when some politicians ask the Commission to pardon certain prisoners. He says that such interests raise further questions and they should be investigated by law enforcement agencies.

“I will refrain from naming concrete politicians. However, I have made notes towards specific agencies many times. When questions arise, it is necessary that law enforcement bodies investigate them but it happens very rarely and the questions remain unanswered,” noted Zviad Koridze.

The First Deputy Prosecutor, Giorgi Gogadze, says that the statements made by Elisashvili are false.

According to him, former Chief Prosecutor Badashvili and he really met with Elisashvili but they did not receive any kind of information about the mentioned case from him.

“Elisashvili’s statements, that he provided us with the names of concrete politicians, are not true and we did not have any other meeting with him,” stated Gogadze and added that based on Elisashvili’s statements, an investigation has been launched under Article 339 of the Georgian criminal code.

The only man able to pardon prisoners in Georgia is the President of Georgia. A special commission composed of 9 men discusses the cases of prisoners, one of whom is a spiritual representative.

The commission drafts the list of prisoners who, according to them, are worth pardoning and send the list to the President to overlook it and confirm.

It should be mentioned that Georgia’s Patriarchate has released a statement in which it highlighted that the recent speculations over giving the Patriarch the right to pardon prisoners were a result of misunderstandings. The statement reads that Patriarch Ilia II has never demanded any legal amendments to pardon prisoners and the statement was simply an emotional reaction from his support of the prisoners.