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Interior ministry responds to President's allegations

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, July 27
Georgia’s Interior Ministry (MIA) released a statement regarding President’s statements that the law enforcers tried to put pressure on his family member. The Ministry confirmed that search was carried out in the house of President's son-in-law Mindia Gogochuri. However, the agency stated the search was conducted in compliance with the law and was related to an investigation into an illegal purchase-possession of arms. But according to the Ministry, no illegal weapons could be found in Mindia Gogochuri’s house.

“Everyone is equal before the law. So, misinterpretations related to this issue are unacceptable”, says the statement.

Georgia’s Prosecutor’s office also released a statement, regarding the President’s allegations, saying investigation sdtarted into the President Giorgi Margvelashvili’s allegations towards the law enforcement agency.

The Prosecutor’s Office demanded the criminal case materials from the Interior Ministry according to which the search towards the President’s son-in-law Mindia Gogochuri was confirmed.

“All investigative activities will be duly conducted in order to establish whether abuse of power took place against Gogochuri,” the statement of the Prosecutor’s Office reads.

The investigation also covers the statements of the Constitutional Court Chair, Giorgi Papuashvili, that certain judges are being pressured.

Shortly after the President’s statement, Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor Irakli Shotadze issued a responsive statement saying he would meet the President and Constitutional Court chairman "immediately or at their earliest convenience” to listen to more details about their allegations. However, Papuashvili says he will meet the Prosecutor General after the meeting with the Prime Minister.

Georgi Margvelashvili made a statement about the pressure on his family member on July 25, after meeting with the Constitutional Court Chair, who provided the President with the information that certain judges” are being watched and blackmailed” in order to make them rule out in favor of government or to hold up the verdicts.

Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili also commented on the issue, saying the incident does not contain any political motive.

“I rule out that this was blackmail and political pressure…If there were any procedural errors, a reaction will be very strict but I rule out a political component in it,” he stated.

The majority says that all individuals, to whom the investigation refers, should co-operate with the Prosecutor’s Office.

“The prosecutor's office will obtain all the evidence, if any exists in this case. I am sure that all the questions are answered,” stated the First Vice-Speaker Manana Kobakhidze.

Some opposition parties doubt the launched investigation will be effective, the opposition party United National Movement (UNM) said the statements of the majority were inadequate.

“The statement of the Prosecutor’s Office confirms that the pressure is really put on the family member of the President, “ the UNM member Sergo Ratiani said.

Public Defender of Georgia, Ucha Nanuashvili believes the allegations made by Margvelashvili are serious and should be followed by an immediate investigation.

“It is clear that the Interior Ministry issued a statement, but I do not know if the President was referring to that case or to other circumstances. When the President makes such statements, immediate investigation should be launched, "the Ombudsman stated.

It should be mentioned, that On July 21, Chair of the Constitutional Court, Giorgi Papuashvili held a special briefing and stated that certain judges ”are being watched and blackmailed” in order to make them rule out in favor of government or to hold up the verdicts. Papuashvili did not specify the names and the details of the cases. However, he noted they are high-profile cases, which are in progress now. The Chair of the Constitutional Court called upon the government for prompt reaction and expressed readiness to provide the state officials with the additional information.

After his statements Papuashvili met with the President and the non-governmental Organisations (NGOs). The third sector says the facts, about which Papuashvili spoke contain attempts of blackmail of judges through their private life footage.