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Former City Hall Official sentenced for bribery makes scandalous statements

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, January 18
The Former Head of the Supervisory Service of Tbilisi City Hall, Jokia Bodokia, who was sentenced for bribery, stated that his detention is connected to the Tbilisi Panorama Project and the negative conclusion on the Project issued by the then-Vice Mayor, Aleksandre Margishvili.

According to the statements made by the convicted official at the Court of Appeal hearing, former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili opposed Davit Narmania and Alexandre Margishvili after the Panorama Tbilisi project encountered problems, the large-scaled business project sponsored by Ivanishvili in the old part of Tbilisi.

Bodokia says that Aleksandre Margishvili issued a negative report on the Panorama Tbilisi Project. This angered Ivanishvili, and Margishvili was dismissed from the Vice-Mayor’s Office.

The former Head of the Supervisory Service stated at the trial that Ivanishvili demanded the arrest of Margishvili and sent the then-Deputies of the Chief Prosecutor, Irakli Shotadze and Giorgi Gogadze, to him, demanding that he give false testimonies against Margishvili.

According to the convicted official, the mediator between him and the Deputy Prosecutors was his former lawyer Giorgi Kavlashvili, who told him that in case he gave the required testimony, he would be freed after the plea agreement and a five thousand lari fine.

Bodokia explained that he refused the offer, for he had no information against Margishvili and did not want to give a false testimony.

The first lawyer of Bodokia, Giorgi Kavlashvili, confirms that he did indeed address the prosecutor requesting a plea agreement, but he refused the information offered by the accused.

Moreover, even Bodokia’s current lawyer Davit Dekanoidze is surprised by the statements made by his defendant. Dekanoidze says he did not know Bodokia was going to make such statements.

Prosecutor Maia Silagadze, who currently works on Jokia Bodokia’s case, denies that the Prosecutor’s Office has offered him a plea agreement in return for making false testimonies.

“We have not offered anything to Jokia Bodokia; it was him who came to us and requested a plea agreement, but we refused.” stated Silagadze after the trial.

Tbilisi Mayor Davit Narmania and the Head of Promotion Center of Entrepreneurship Aleksandre Margishvili have also denied Bodokia’s statements.

"As you can see, under our government, the rule of law is supreme and corruption cannot exist. Jokia Bodokia, who decided to read the text written by someone else, is an example that our system works. His steps will not change our attitude towards corruption," Narmania noted.

Aleksandre Margishvili said he never had any connection to Panorama Tbilisi Project and that the advocates of Bodokia “have chosen the absolutely wrong strategy.”

Jokia Bodokia was arrested for bribery. In particular, he was accused of taking 50,000 USD in exchange for issuing a permit for the construction of a hotel. On November 4 2015, he was found guilty and sentenced to 11 years of imprisonment.

The Panorama Tbilisi project, mentioned by Jokia Bodokia, is a 500 million USD project funded by the Co-Investment Fund (GCF) of Georgia, which is a private equity fund created on the initiative of former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, and envisages building four multi-functional areas in the old part of Tbilisi. The project has already been confirmed by Tbilisi City Council.

Some opposition oriented citizens of Tbilisi and certain international organizations believe the project will damage the image of the old part of the Georgian capital and make it less attractive for tourists.