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Constitutional Court involved in political process

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, August 1
Georgia’s Parliament Speaker, Davit Usupashvili, who is also the leader of the Davit Usupashvili - Republican Party, believes the current situation in the Constitutional Court is “critical” and the Court is involved in the “epicentre of political processes”.

Usupashvili made his comments about the recent tension in the Constitutional Court in his interview for Imedi TV.

“It is not only impossible to work in these conditions but it also contains danger, because the decisions of the Constitutional Court are final,” he added.

Usupashvili thinks the situation can be improved by the appointment of new judges, as the term of three judges expires in late September.

“If three new members will be appointed they will contribute to the improvement of the situation,” the Speaker stated.

Tension in the Constitutional Court started on July 21, when the Constitutional Court Chair, Giorgi Papuashvili, made a public statement that certain judges ”are being watched and blackmailed” in order to make them make rulings in favour of the government or to hold up verdicts.

Following this, the Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation, and several judges out of the nine-member Court have been questioned.

On July 29, five judges of the Constitutional Court accused Papuashvili of trying to speed up decisions into politically charged notorious cases and not giving judges enough time to properly consider those high-profile cases. Judges Merab Turava, Lali Papiashvili, Zaza Tavadze Otar Sichinava and Tamaz Tsabutashvili issued a letter and suggested to decide such cases only after the investigation is complete.

In response to these five judges, their three colleges Konstantine Vardzelashvili, Ketevan Eremadze and Maia Kopaleishvili also released a letter, saying the statement made by several judges of the court about political selection of certain complaints is “disappointing and vague”.

“We hope each judge will be able to act with respect to our professional dignity and be devoted to the Constitution and Constitutional Court,” the statement reads.

According to the Chair of the Court, Papuashvili, all the decisions should be made on time despite the investigation or any other procedures. He said the statement of the five judges is a misunderstanding.

“I think that we will overcome this misunderstanding and continue performing our functions normally,” he said.

A member of the UNM opposition party, Salome Samadashvili, thinks the government is trying to influence the Constitutional Court.

“Unfortunately we see that the last bastion of our constitutional rights in this country is falling down…this is the result of a deliberate policy,” said Samadashvili.

Eka Beselia, the Chair of the Parliamentary Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee, commented on the statement of the Parliament Speaker, regarding the recent developments in the Constitutional Court. Beselia says the Constitutional Court is not a weak institution to influence it.

The ten-year term of four Constitutional Court judges Giorgi Papuashvili, Konstantine Vardzelashvili, Otar Sichinava and Ketevan Eremadze expires in late September. Two of the four seats should be filled by new judges appointed by President Giorgi Margvelashvili. One new judge has to be appointed by the Parliament and the fourth vacant seat will be filled by the Supreme Court.