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Georgian President Lifts Moratorium on Violent Crimes

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, August 3
The President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili has decided to lift a moratorium which suspended pardoning of inmates who have been convicted for violent crimes.

Margvelashvili announced the moratorium on April 17, 2018, after a 25-year old woman was killed by her stepfather, who was convicted in 2015 for domestic violence and was released in May 2017 after the president pardoned him.

Vepkhia Bakradze, 45, killed his stepdaughter Tamar Gamrekelashvili right after police issued a restraining order against him.

The police detained the man the following day, and he faces imprisonment from 16 to 18 years for murder and domestic violence.

In April, Margvelashvili stated at first he refused to pardon Vepkhia Bakradze but his second request was attached by his family's will that he be released.

Zviad Koridze, the Chairperson of the Pardon Commission, announced on August 2 that the moratorium was lifted by consultations held between the president and the Pardon Commission and non-governmental organizations, public and civil activists.

“The President of Georgia lifted the moratorium on July 23, thereby giving the Pardon Commission an opportunity to consider previous cases of violent crime,” he stated.

Koridze added that Margvelashvili pardoned 83 inmates. The Commission examined the cases of 976 convicts between the 23rd of July and the 29th of July and then sent their recommendations to the President.

40 prisoners will leave the penitentiary institution immediately, while the sentences of the other 43 will be reduced. According to Koridze, among the pardoned are three women and an underaged.

The president’s pardoning commission is composed of ten people. Members are mostly lawyers from the civil sector and public figures, alongside the Public Defender and the Georgian Patriarchate.

Presidential Administration stated that the Justice Ministry decided not to appoint their representative to the commission, as it was decided a few months ago when Margvelashvili and then Minister of Corrections Kakha Kakhishvili held a meeting.

The commission discusses all cases sent before it by inmates or their families and makes the initial decision as to which prisoners seem to deserve a pardon. That list is then sent to the president for approval.