The Court of Appeal left Nika Gvaramia in custody
The Tbilisi Court of Appeal rejected the appeal of Nika Gvaramia, one of the founders of the TV “Mtavari Arkhi” and left him in prison On November 2.
The appellate court also upheld the prison term sentenced to the director of “Mtavari Arkhi”. In particular, the court of Gvaramia requalified Article 182 of the Criminal Code (Article 2 “a” and “d”; Article 3 “b”) with Article 220 and found him guilty of abuse of authority while being the director of the TV “Rustavi 2”. The court sentenced him again to 3 years and 6 months of imprisonment.
After the announcement of the appeal court’s decision, one of Nika Gvaramia’s lawyers, Dimitri Sadzaglishvili, said that even though Gvaramia’s innocence was proven in the appeal court as well and “it is absolutely clear to everyone that he is in prison with a forged verdict”, the panel of judges upheld the “illegal verdict”.
According to him, the decision of the appeal court “takes away not only Nika Gvaramia’s freedom but also the country’s and prevents it from the path of European integration”. Sadzaglishvili also noted that the truth will be established and it will be clear how “the decision was made, who conducted this process and who had what role in the process of making this illegal verdict”.
The representatives of the opposition parties criticized the decision of the court.
“Nika’s] [Gvaramia] freedom is not only Nika’s freedom, Nika’s freedom is very important for the European integration of Georgia, including the fulfillment of the 12-point recommendations, since Nika’s freedom is directly written in the resolution of the European Parliament and in the 12th point that for media freedom the most important is Nika’s freedom,” said United National Movement MP Khatia Dekanoidze.
Badri Japaridze, one of the leaders of the “Lelo – for Georgia” party, said that “another step has been taken to hinder the European integration process of our country. The court, which is in the clutches of the “Georgian Dream”, has long turned into a tool of revenge against political opponents.”
The decision of the appeal court was also criticized by the Civil Society Organisations. In the joint statement of eight non-governmental organizations, we read that “the mentioned case is politically motivated, the purpose of which is to punish Nika Gvaramia and disrupt the activities of a critical TV company.”
The US Embassy in Georgia also responded to the court’s decision and said that at a time when Georgia’s commitment to an impartial court and media pluralism is “the subject of special scrutiny”, “Nika Gvaramia’s current imprisonment puts at risk the clear choice of the Georgian people and the stated goal of Georgia’s leaders – safer, democratic, European future”.
The embassy once again expressed “deep concern” about the court’s decision and noted that several international and Georgian human rights defenders “raised serious questions about this case from the beginning, including the timing and charges, as well as the conviction and sentence.”
The delegation of the Russian-Belarus Union arrived in occupied Abkhazia
The delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union of Russia and Belarus, headed by the Russian MP Artyom Turov, arrived in Abkhazia and met with the leader of the occupied region, Aslan Bzhania.
According to the press service of the Bzhania administration, at the meeting, the leader of Abkhazia emphasized the importance of strengthening relations at the level of the legislative and executive authorities, as well as in various structures of the state administration.
He expressed hope that similar meetings will help “strengthen the friendship between the people of Abkhazia, Russia and Belarus”.
Bzhania also spoke about the importance of deepening economic relations between Abkhazia and Belarus and said: “We believe that economic development issues are very important for us. Recently, the president of Belarus visited us, we took some steps and we hope that there will be more such steps.”
Based on the information of the local agency “Apsnipress”, on his part, during the meeting with Bzhania, Turov expressed his gratitude for the “constructive conversation” with the “Speaker of the Parliament”, Lasha Ashuba, where, according to him, they discussed several directions, which are the areas of interest of Russia, Belarus and Abkhazia.
ECHR has published its decision on the case of Giorgi Mamaladze
In the decision published by the European Court of Human Rights on November 3 on the lawsuit of deacon Giorgi Mamaladze, who was convicted in the “Cyanide” case, it is stated that Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to a fair trial – was violated in two episodes.
The European Court ordered the state to pay Giorgi Mamaladze the amount of 9,418 GEL within three months from the entry into force of the judgment. The complaining party demanded compensation of 376,304 GEL.
The ECHR ruled that there was a violation of Article 6.1 “on account of the holding of the criminal trial in camera.”
The ECHR found another violation under Article 6.2, which states that “everyone charged with a criminal offense shall be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law.”
It did not satisfy Mamaladze’s third claim, however, and remarked that there was no violation under Article 6.1 “on account of the manner in which the evidence was obtained and used against the applicant.”
The Court remarked in its ruling that the “finding of a violation constitutes in itself sufficient just satisfaction for any non-pecuniary damage sustained by the applicant.” The Court also stated that it “dismisses the remainder of the applicant’s claim for just satisfaction.”
David Jandieri, the lawyer representing Mamaladze’s interests in the ECtHR responded to the news in a Facebook post, stating “I won the cyanide case at the Strasbourg Court… I was satisfied with two issues out of three.”
Jandieri noted that the “Chamber unanimously determined that the right of Deacon Giorgi Mamaladze to a fair trial was violated and accordingly found a violation of Article 6 (6.1 and 6.2) of the Convention.”
The Ministry of Justice released a statement responding to the Court’s decision, in which they highlighted that the “Strasbourg Court considered Giorgi Mamaladze’s sentence legal,” and “did not satisfy the applicant’s claim for moral compensation.”
According to the Ministry, the Strasbourg Court did not find any violation of the applicant’s right to a fair trial in terms of obtaining evidence and their reliability, and “did not call into question the findings of the investigative body and courts at the national level on the criminal case against the applicant.”