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Cable Case: more questions than answers

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, May 20
Parliament Speaker Davit Usupashvili commented on the Cables Case, saying the process is not legally finished yet.

According to Usupashvili - who originates from the Republican Party which formally remains within the ruling party Georgian Dream (GD) before the October Parliamentary elections - there are more questions than answers in the case.

“This is not a good thing, but I am sure that all the questions will be answered legally and politically; the issue is not closed and a year and a half was not enough for it," said the Speaker.

The notorious Cable Case, which was underway for 18 months until May 16, concerns the arrest of five former Defence Ministry officials who were convicted to seven years of imprisonment by Tbilisi City Court Judge Besik Bugianishvili.

The Chief Prosecutor’s Office detained all five officials on October 28 2014. They were accused of misspending more than 4 million GEL from the state budget in an alleged sham tender in 2013 on laying fibre optic cables and procuring networking equipment.

This case resulted in the sacking of former Defence Minister Irakli Alasania. The former minister and the current leader of the opposition movement Free Democrats, Alasania stated his employees were innocent and the arrest was an attack on the Ministry, himself, and Georgia’s foreign course.

On May 18 2016, the Free Democrats met with the Diplomatic Corps accredited in Georgia and provided them with more information about the case.

“This verdict not only increased the number of political feuds but ended the perspective that the Court system could become independent,” stated Alasania at the meeting.

The Free Democrats also responded to the statement of the Justice Minister, Tea Tsulukiani, who said that the case is not finished and everyone should wait until the case goes to the higher courts.

“It will take years for the case to pass all the stages and the offer of the Justice Minister, telling us to wait, is excessive cynicism,” stated a member of the Free Democrats, Aleksi Petriashvili. The Free Democrats are going to hold a protest rally tomorrow at the Prosecutor’s Office.

The United National Movement (UNM) opposition party says the case confirms that former Prime Minister and founder of the GD party, Bidzina Ivanishvili, has started to eliminate his opponents before parliamentary elections.

“By the instruction of Bidzina Ivanishvili, Georgian Dream is trying to politically subordinate the Court cystem; the main thing is that the Court system should be released from this political pressure,” UNM member Petre Tsiskarishvili said.

A former member party of the GD, the National Forum, which left the coalition a month ago, called on the President to pardon the convicted officials.

According to a member of the National Forum, Ani Mirotadze, if more arguments will not be provided by the prosecution side, the doubts that these people were arrested for political reasons will deepen.

Moreover, a number of NGOs issued their own statement, in which they said that many questions within the case create a feeling that “the verdict was biased and improper and it might have been politically influenced.“ They are preparing a report on the case, which will be sent to international organizations.

According to the Head of Lawyer’s Association, Zaza Khatiashvili “We have five more political prisoners; this is a political decision”.

Soso Tsiskarishvili, head of the Independent Experts Club, says it is obvious the court is politically influenced. “The Prosecutor’s Office and the Court have been privatized by Ivanishvili,” stated the expert.