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President Suspends Pardoning of Crimes of Violence After large-scale criticism

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, April 17
(TBILISI) - President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili stated at a special briefing on Monday that he suspends pardoning of those accused of violence in the wake of brutal killing of a 25-year-old girl, in front of her two minors, by her step father who was pardoned by president last year.

Margvelashvili stated that the Pardon Commission acting under him will receive applications. However, he will not pardon anyone accused of crimes motivated by violence until the consultations over the pardon issues, with all actors involved, are complete.

The president made the announcement after he was grilled by the majority and the Interior Ministry officials for pardoning the 45-year-old Vepkhvia Bakradze who killed his stepdaughter in central Tbilisi on April 13, for revenge as his ex-wife refused to live with him.

“I do not think that the President's pardon act was justified in the case of Bakradze,” Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Natia Mezvrishvili and added that the strict policy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs cannot be enforced unless all the agencies, including the president, have shown a strict approach to grave crimes.

Aleksandre Darakhvelidze, Head of the Legal Department of the Ministry of Corrections, stated that the Parole Commission of the Ministry, which can release prisoners pre-term, has refused Bakradze to be released before the scheduled time “six times”.

Darakhvelidze claimed that Bakradze, who was detained in 2015 for violating of traffic rules and inflicting injuries to a family member, failed to meet mandatory criteria, as the prison administration described him negatively.

Margvelashvili, however, stated that the President’s Pardon Commission received a “very positive description” about Bakradze, and he displayed positive assessments about the individual written by Tbilisi #12 prison social worker, psychologist and the head of the Legal Department.

“If the individual is dangerous, why did we receive such a positive assessment?” Margvelashvili asked.

Head of the Pardon Commission Zviad Koridze explained that in 2015 the Commission did not recommend the president to pardon the individual.

“However, in 2016 a family member addressed us to pardon Bakradze and we also received the positive assessments from the ministry. In 2016, we addressed the president to pardon Bakradze and he pardoned him-reduced his term for six months. Consequently, Bakradze left prison in May 2017, instead of December 2017,” Koridze said.

“Only after the president’s pardon the prisoner addressed the Correction Ministry Parole Commission to leave the prison earlier than the left six months. After the pardon any prisoner has a right to address the Parole Commission each month. As it appears Bakradze did this six times, used all possibilities, but the Commission dismissed his applications. It is unclear and we are interested to know why did we [the president’s Pardon Commission] receive positive assessments about the man and the Correction Ministry Parole Commission negative?” Koridze told the media.

The president stated that now the Interior Ministry and others were trying “to shift the whole responsibility on him” while there remain questions in the issue.

“Bakradze was detained after four months from committing violence to his wife. He was charged for the violence only after he was fined for traffic violation,” Margvelashvili said.

Bakradze, who served in the Ministry of Internal Affairs Security Service in 1990ies, was detained on April 14. He is facing 18-20 years in prison or a life sentence.