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Ex-UNM official tried to influence judges

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, February 9
Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office has released a special statement stating that the ex-Deputy Chief Prosecutor under the United National Movement government and now in Ukraine, David Sakvarelidze, had tried to influence two judges who are participating in the legal ownership case of private broadcaster Rustavi 2 TV.

The Prosecutor’s Office released the letters and text messages received by Besarion Arveladze and Paata Katamadze, judges of the Supreme Court of Georgia, wherein they were promised “magnificent careers and benefits” if they acted as requested.

"You will become untouchable and your future career will be guaranteed," said the letter released by the Prosecutor’s Office, apparently written by Sakvarelidze from Ukraine.

"We know from Gvaramia [Nika Gvaramia, Director General of Rustavi 2] that you and Paata Katamadze are our allies. I am also aware of the difficulties, though all this will soon be over. You will necessarily be rewarded.”

“Misha [Georgia’s ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili] appreciates your commitment and I think that it is time to artificially blow up this topic. In agreement with him, I’d like to ask you the following: try to make a scandal out of every minor issue. It does not matter whether it will be convincing or not. It’s better to openly say that you have to work under incredible pressure, threats and terror. Nika knows the rest. He will make black PR and this case will be ultimately destroyed,” the letter said.

The Office claims the letters pertained to the Rustavi 2 case, where the current and former owners are disputing the channel's ownership. However, Rustavi 2 and the United National Movement opposition say the case is politically motivated and the current government wishes to destroy the channel.

The Prosecutor’s Office says the two judges arrived at the Prosecutor’s Office and claimed they were under pressure on January 14, as well as presented the letters and massages they received.

Sakvarelidze has responded to the statement, calling it “funny and absurd”.

He stressed there were no identification signs on the documents presented by the Prosecutor’s Office indicating his involvement in the issue.

He stressed he was not going to return to Georgia and give testimony.

Nika Gvaramia stated the two judges really did apply to the Prosecutor’s Office, but they complained about pressure from the State Security Agency (SUSI) to rule in favour of Kibar Khalvashi, a businessman and former owner of Rustavi 2.

The management of Rustavi 2 claims Khalvashi is backed by the government in the dispute against the TV channel’s current leadership and policies.