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Georgian media reveals names of MPs allegedly putting pressure on ex-pardon commission head

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, December 15
According to the Kviris Palitra newspaper, allegations of the former Pardon Commission Chair are connected with the so-called Cocaine Case.

The newspaper writes that they have obtained information from an incognito source about the statements made by an independent member of Tbilisi City Council and the former Chair of State Pardon Commission, Aleko Elisashvili, who stated that some politicians took money in return for lobbying for the release of sertain prisoners.

According to the MP, during his work in the Pardon Commission, several politicians from the Georgian Dream Coalition used to put pressure on him to demand the release of certain prisoners. He also stated that these politicians received 200 000 USD in advance from the prisoners’ relatives or family members. In total, they would receive 1.5 million dollars if the deal was made.

Although Elisashvili has not revealed any names, Kviris Palitra says that these politicians are Vice-Speaker Manana Kobakhidze and MP Eka Beselia, who is the Chair of Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee of the Parliament.

"We carried out a journalistic investigation to determine the prisoner for whom certain individuals were ready to pay almost two million dollars and who were the politicians which exerted pressure on the chairman of the pardon commission. According to our source, which at this point prefers to stay anonymous, the trace is connected with the so-called Cocaine Case,” reads Kviris Palitra.

The newspaper claims that the main actor of the so-called cocaine case, Nugzar Bochorishvili, attempted to release his girlfriend Anastasia Zautashvili by putting her on the list of political prisoners after the change of government. However, then Interior Minister Irakli Garibashvili demanded the removal of Anastasia Zautashvili from the list of political prisoners, and the only way to release her was the State Pardon Commission, which was then chaired by Elisashvili.

According to the newspaper, Zautashvili’s statement was filed in the Pardon Commission in the beginning of 2014 but the case did not meet the criteria for a pardon and the Commission refused to consider the case. After this, political pressure was apparently placed on Elisashvili.

As for the Cocaine Case, the Ministry of Internal affairs arrested 5 members of an international drug cartel on 2 June 201-. Manana Kobakhidze was the defence lawyer of the detainees.

Eka Beselia refused to make any comments saying she will wait until the investigation is over.

However, Kobakhidze did not deny that she had asked Elisashvili to pardon her clients but claimed she had never put any kind of pressure on the Pardon Commission Chairman or received any money in return for lobbying for the pardon of various prisoners.

"I was a lawyer of the persons detained in connection with the so-called Cocaine Case in 2011. Yes, I had been requesting the pardon of these people, because I think even today that they are being detained with serious procedural violations. Testimonies were obtained through the intimidation of witnesses and in general a lot of legal questions remain unanswered,” she said, and added that if Elisashvili names her, he has to prove that she received 200 000 USD.

The current lawyer of the prisoners over Cocaine Case, Mirian Nikoladze, says that his clients have been interrogated by the investigators in prison.

“It is nonsense that Bochorishvili paid money to politicians and asked to release the detainees over the case,” he said and noted that his clients have nothing to do with Elisashvili’s allegations.