HRC is monitoring the cases with alleged political motives in the general courts of Georgia within the frames of the project Legal Aid and Human Rights Monitoring.
HRC court monitors are currently looking into 22 cases, some of which are being heard in the courts of first instance, while some others are appealed to higher instances of courts.
1) Iveri Melashvili and Natalia Ilychova case ( Cartographers case) - Iveri Melashvili, the former director of the Bordering Relations Service of the Department for Neighboring Countries within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Natalia Ilychova, former chief inspector of the Land Border Guard Department of the Border Police under the Ministry of Interior were charged by the prosecution under Article 308(1) of the Criminal Code of Georgia envisaging the acts aimed at transferring the entire territory or part of Georgia to a foreign country and/or separating part of the territory from the territory of Georgia. Iveri Melashvili and Natalia Ilychova were arrested on October 7, 2020, one month before the parliamentary elections. On January 28, 2021, following the petition by the prosecution, presiding judge Lela Kalichenko changed the measure of restraint applied against the defendants to remand on bail of GEL 20,000 each. Further, the court granted the motion of the prosecution to dismiss Iveri Melashvili from his job. In order to collect the amount of the bail, the civil movement Shame spread information on the social network as a result within couple hours many citizens joined the campaign to assist the release of the accused persons collecting the full amount of the bail GEL 40,000. The defendants were remanded in custody from October 8, 2020 till January 28, 2021. The hearings on merits are being carried on in Tbilisi City Court. The prosecution is examining former members of the Delimitation and Demarcation State Commission.
2) Case of Besik Tamliani, Emzar Siukaev, Kakhaber Keshikashvili, Stepane Gikoshvili and Lasha Samkharadze: The accused were detained on November 29, 2021, at rally in support of Mikheil Saakashvili in front of Tbilisi City Court premises. Besik Tamliani, Lasha Samkharadze and Emzar Siukaev have been charged with an offense under Article 353(1) of the Criminal Code, while Kakhaber Keshikashvili and Stepane Gikoshvili under Article 3531(1). Hearings on the merits are being carried on in Tbilisi City Court and witnesses of the defense having participated in the rally of 29 November 2021 are being examined. Judge Lasha Chkhikvadze hears the case.
3) Case of Mikheil Saakashvili and Teimuraz Janashia: Ex-President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili and former chief of the State Protection Service, Teimuraz Janashia, were charged under article 182(b) of the Criminal Code envisaging the unlawful appropriation or embezzlement of budgetary funds in large amounts (GEL 8,837,461) by an organized group. The criminal case is heard on the merits by judge Badri Kochlamazashvili in Tbilisi City Court. The hearing of the case is at the stage of examination of the evidence of the prosecution. During 8 months, the hearing of the criminal case was postponed several times, taking into consideration the aggravation of Mikheil Saakashvili's health condition.
4) Case of Mikheil Saakashvili, Ivane Merabishvili, Davit Kezerashvili and Gigi Ugulava: The case against former high ranking officials is being heard in Tbilisi City Court comprising of the charges of the dispersal of the protesters en masse on November 7, 2007, invading and “seizing” TV company Imedi, further, depriving Patarkatsishvili family of Mtatsminda Park and Rustavi Metallurgical Plant. Due to the complexity of the matter, the case is being heard by a panel of judges in Tbilisi City Court with presiding judge Nino Eleishvili. The hearing of the case is at the stage of examination of the evidence of the prosecution.
5) Case of Mikheil Saakashvili - border crossing: On charges of illegal crossing of the state border of Georgia, the third President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili was accused by the prosecution under Article 344(1) of the Criminal Code of Georgia. According to the Prosecutor's Office, the investigation found out that on September 28, 2021, a ship named "Vilnius" departing from Port of Chernomorsk in Ukraine reached Poti Port. On September 29, a SCANIA trailer truck belonging to IKA TRANS LLC loaded with dairy products debarked from the ship. Mikheil Saakashvili was in the trailer managing with the help of Elguja Tsomaia to illegally cross the state border of Georgia bypassing the state control. The case is being heard at Tbilisi City Court. Up to date, the evidence of the parties is examined in full. The defendant seeks to give a testimony before the court, but because of his health condition this was not made possible. From the end of April 2022, court hearings were systematically scheduled once a week, but at the beginning of December 2022, the judge took a leave after which the date of the next hearing is unknown.
6) Elguja Tsomaia, Giorgi Narimanidze, Zurab and Shalva Tsotsorias case. Following the return of Mikheil Saakashvili from Ukraine to Georgia, Elguja Tsomaia, Giorgi Narimanidze, a father and a son Zurab and Shalva Tsotsorias were arrested on charges of concealment of crime. Further, the investigation argues that on September 29, 2021, after the illegal crossing of the border by Mikheil Saakashvili, Zurab and Shalva Tsotsorias rendered a car service to take Saakashvili to the locale of the crime - one of the villages in Samegrelo. On October 5, 2021, following the motion by the prosecution, Judge Giorgi Gelashvili of Tbilisi City Court remanded both Tsotsorias, the father and the son, in custody as a measure of restraint. The investigation is carried under Article 375(2) of the Criminal Code of Georgia meaning the concealment of a serious crime without prior promise. Tsomaia is also charged with the assistance in illegal crossing of the border. On January 20, 2022, the measure of restraint was changed for all four defendants and they were remanded on bail. The hearings on the merits of the case began on December 19, 2022 in Tbilisi City Court. Judge Valerian Bugianishvili hears the case.
7) The Case of Mamuka Khazaradze, Badri Japaridze and Avtandil Tsereteli. Former Chairperson of the Supervisory Council of TBC Bank, Mamuka Khazaradze and his deputy, Badri Japaridze (at the time being the leaders of the political organisation Lelo for Georgia) are charged under Article 194(2)(a) and (3)(c) of the Criminal Code envisaging the legalization of illicit incomes in large amounts carried out by an organized group. Meanwhile, the charges brought against the father of the owner of TV company TV Pirveli, Avtandil Tsereteli read the assistance in the legalization of illicit income (Article 25 and Article 194(2)(a) and (3)(c) of the Criminal Code). On January 12, 2022, Tbilisi City Court rendered the judgment on the case of Mamuka Khazaradze, Badri Japaridze and Avtandil Tsereteli. In particular, the court subsumed the charges brought against Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze shifting from legalization of illicit income (money laundering) to the article of fraud, while the charges against Avtandil Tsereteli were subsumed from participating in the money laundering to participation in a fraud. However, under the judgment announced on January 12, judge Giorgi Arevadze found Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze guilty of the offenses under Article 180(2)(a) (fraud committed by more than one person with a preliminary agreement) and 180(3)(b) (fraud committed in large quantities) of the Criminal Code sentencing them to 7 years of imprisonment each. Further, according to the judgment, Khazaradze and Japaridze were released from the prison sentences because of the limitation period of the criminal prosecution. The hearing of the case was completed at Tbilisi Court of Appeals. The case was heard by the Chamber of Criminal Matters with presiding judge Merab Jorbenadze. On January 20, 2023, the Chamber left for deliberations and delivered the judgment on January 26. The Appellate Court found Mamuka Khazaradze, Badri Japaridze and Avtandil Tsereteli guilty of fraud committed by a group thus upholding the judgment of the City Court.
8) Criminal case of Akaki Khuskivadze and Akaki Kobaladze. HRC is monitoring the court proceedings of the criminal case ongoing against Akaki Khuskivadze and Akaki Kobaladze. The accused are charged with committing the criminal acts under Article 339(1), Article 150(2)(b), and Article 151(2)(a) of the Criminal Code of Georgia envisaging the following offense: directly offering to an official money for his/her benefit, in order that he/she take a certain action during the exercise of his/her official rights and duties for the benefit of the bribe-giver, further a threat of damaging health, when the person threatened began to have a reasonable sensation of fear that the threat will be carried out, the act committed by a group of persons, i.e. coercing him/her mentally to perform an action abstaining from the performance of which is his/her right, the act committed by a group of persons. Moreover, Akaki Kobaladze is accused of illegal purchase and storage of ammunitions, the offense provided for by Article 236(3) of the Criminal Code of Georgia. On December 10, 2020, Tbilisi City Court remanded the detainees on bail. They had to pay GEL 10,000 in bail. The hearing of the case is at the stage of examination of the evidence of the defence. The case was heard on the merits by Judge Giorgi Keratishvili of Tbilisi City Court, however, Judge Lasha Chkhikvadze took over the case as Judge Keratishvili was appointed to the Court of Appeals.
9) Case of Nikanor Melia: Former MP Nikanor Melia has been charged under Article 225(1)(2) of the Criminal Code of Georgia envisaging the organisation of and participation in group violence. The current case pending with Tbilisi City Court is connected with the events of June 20-21, 2019. On February 17, 2021, the court granted in full the motion of the Prosecutor General of Georgia, Irakli Shotadze, to replace the measure of restraint used against the accused with remand in custody. On May 10, 2021, the court also granted the motion of the prosecution to change the measure of restraint applied against the accused to a less sever one. In particular, remand in custody as a measure of restraint applied against Nikanor Melia was changed to remand on bail of GEL 40,000. The bail was allocated by the European Endowment for Democracy (EED) under an agreement between the opposition and the government. The hearing on the merits of the criminal case is going on in Tbilisi City Court, presiding judge is Nino Chakhnashvili.
10) Case of Giorgi Ugulava and Aleksandre Gogokhia. The criminal case launched against Giorgi Ugulava, the former Mayor of Tbilisi, is at the stage of hearing on the merits in Tbilisi City Court. The prosecution charges the defendants with the commission of the offenses under Article 194 and Article 362 of the Criminal Code, meaning the legalization of illicit income (money laundering) and making or using a forged document, seal, stamp, or letterhead and inducing others to accept them as genuine. Moreover, in the same case, the state prosecution charged Ugulava with abuse of official power on the episode of City Park and with the organisation of group action and with coercion on the episode of Marneuli. The case is being heard by judge Valerian Bugianashvili of Tbilisi City Court.
11) Case of Irakli Okruashvili. The Leader of the party Victorious Georgia, Irakli Okruashvili was accused under Article 225 of the Criminal Code related to the events of June 20-21, 2019 envisaging the organisation of group violence and participation in the violence. Following the judgment from April 13, 2000, Okruashvili was sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment as he was charged with participation in the offense. Based on the Act or Pardon of the President, like Giorgi Ugulava Okruashvili also left the penitentiary facility on May 15, 2020. Despite the pardon, Okruashvili appealed the judgment to Tbilisi Court of Appeals. Judge Vepkhvia Lomidze upheld the judgment of the court of first instance. So, the judgment was appealed by Irakli Okruashvili to the Supreme Court.
12) The case of Irakli Okruashvili and Zurab Adeishvili which is the case of Buta Robakidze. Irakli Okruashvili and Zurab Adeishvili are charged under Article 332(3)(c) of the Criminal Code envisaging the abuse of power by a state political official. The case concerns the incident that took place near Didube Pantheon in Tbilisi on November 24, 2004, when the police patrol stopped a car of BMW brand with a driver and five passengers in the car. In the process of seizing and personal examination of the persons, one of the patrol officers, Grigol Basheleishvili accidentally triggered the weapon and shot on to the left armpit of Amiran (Buta) Robakidze heavily wounding him causing his death at the scene. According to the prosecution decision, the case on the same night was reported to the Minister of Internal Affairs, Irakli Okruashvili, who instructed the high officials arriving to the scene that they had “to save the reputation of the patrol police” and to give the incident the appearance of an armed assault on the police officers. Further, according to the prosecution decision, following the instructions of the then Prosecutor General of Georgia, Zurab Adeishvili, the investigation was conducted legally speaking in the wrong direction which was manifested in the procedural affirmation of falsified evidence and reaffirmation of the versions of high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Interior. On November 19, 2019, in the prison, charges were brought against Irakli Okruashvili for the above offense several days prior the expiration of 15 years of limitation period. The hearing of the case is at the stage of examination of the evidence of the prosecution. The hearings are in the stage of examining the evidence of the prosecution. Judge Lasha Chkhikvadze hears the case since November 2022. The court hearings are scheduled once every 3 weeks.
13) Case of Koba Koshadze: The member of the guard of Irakli Okruashvil, of the leader of the party Victorious Georgia was charged with an offense under Article 236 of the Criminal Code envisaging illegal purchase, storage and carriage of firearms and ammunition. After the Prosecutor’s Office approached the court with a motion to change the measure of restraint, the court canceled the measure or restraint in the form of custody and remanded the accused on bail of GEL 5,000 instead. Koba Koshadze was released from the courtroom. Judge Giorgi Arevadze hears the case. No court hearings of the case were scheduled in 2022.
14) Case of Megis Kardava: Tbilisi City Court hears the criminal case of Megis Kardava, former high-ranking official of the Ministry of Interior and Military Police. The prosecution charged him of having tortured three prisoners in Penitentiary Facility N8 in 2011. Megis Kardava has been charged under Article 1441 (2) of the Criminal Code i.e. torture envisaging 9 to 15 years of imprisonment. The case is being heard on the merits and the evidence is being examined. The defendant stated that the case against him is politically motivated and he refuses to participate in the court hearings. Judge Davit Mgeliashvili hears the case.
15) Case of Giorgi Mumladze: Giorgi Mumladze, a civil activist, is accused of committing an illegal act under Article 353(1) of the Criminal Code of Georgia i.e. a resistance towards a police officer, a special penitentiary officer or other government official with an aim to interfere with his/her activities of maintaining public order, to cease or alter his/her activities, further to coerce an officer to a manifestly unlawful act committed with violence or threat of violence. The case is at the stage of examining the evidence of the prosecution. At the previous court session, the defense filed a motion to terminate the criminal proceedings which the court rejected. The case is being heard at Tbilisi City Court, by presiding judge Zviad Sharadze.
16) Case of Giorgi Rurua: Giorgi Rurua, one of the founders and shareholders of TV company Mtavari Arkhi, and one of the organizers of the protest demonstrations of June 20-21, 2019, is charged under article 236(3)(4) of the Criminal Code (illegal purchase, storage and carriage of firearms); he was also charged under Article 381(1) of the Criminal Code implying the failure to execute a court decision or interference with the execution of a court decision. On July 30, 2020, the judge of Criminal Panel of Tbilisi City Court, Valerian Bugianishvili rendered a judgment of conviction against Rurua sentencing him to 4 years of imprisonment. The court found Giorgi Rurua guilty of both charges. Following the Act of Pardon by the President of Georgia, on April 27, 2021, the convict was released from the penitentiary facility. The President made the decision after the Agreement of April 19, 2021 (Charles Michel Document) was signed by the opposition parties, according to which a legal mechanism of release should have been applied to Giorgi Rurua. Despite the pardon, Giorgi Rurua challenged the judgment of the City Court in the superior court. The case is being currently heard by Tbilisi Court of Appeals.
Since 2022, the following cases with alleged political motives have been brought under the monitoring of HRC:
1. Kakha Kaladze versus journalist Maia Mamulashvili and TV Pirveli: Hearings on the merits of the civil claim lodged by Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze are finalized in Tbilisi City Court. On November 30, 2022, Judge Zaal Maruashvili announced the operative part of the judgment according to which the court partially granted Kakha Kaladze's claim and journalist Maia Mamulashvili and TV Pirveli were imposed to pay together GEL 15 000 in moral damages. The court ordered Maia Mamulashvili to denounce the false statements in the same manner and through the same means as the information was disseminated. The journalist accused Tbilisi Mayor of participating in corruption deals claiming that Kaladze received GEL 60 million from the tenders. Kakha Kaladze demanded the statements against him to be denounced and GEL 100,000 to be imposed on the respondents.
2. GMI Rights Management versus Labor Party - Advance hearings of the civil claim lodged by GMI Rights Management are going on in Tbilisi City Court. Labor Party of Georgia stands as a respondent in the case and the subject matter of the dispute is the infringement of copyrights when the Labor Party used the verse “I am afraid” by Murman Lebanidze without authorisation publicly reading it for the purpose of election advertising. On behalf of Copyright Union, GMI Rights Management claims EUR 50,000 from the Labor Party in damages. The suit is being heard by Judge Gocha Didava.
3. Case of deferral of Mikheil Saakashvili's sentence. Tbilisi City Court heard the motion of the defense counsels of the third President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili to exempt him from the sentence or alternatively to suspend his sentence due to the deterioration of the health condition. Referring to the argument of not having studied the case files, the representative of the Penitentiary Service requested to adjourn the hearing. Judge Giorgi Arevadze within the Panel of Criminal Matters of Tbilisi City Court has been extensively hearing the case since December 22, 2022. The motion comprises 15 bundles including the assessments of Georgian and foreign experts.
4. Jelal Kikava's case - The prosecution charges Jelal Kikava, the supporter of ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili with committing a crime under Article 366(1)(2) of the Criminal Code - direct contempt of court expressed in an insult towards a participant of the proceedings or a judge. Jelal Kikava is a member of the Adjara regional organization of the National Movement. On March 28, 2022, Jemal Kikava was sent from the court room and imposed fine of GEL 500 because of arguing with prosecutors during the hearing of the criminal case against Mikheil Saakashvili. A month later, the Prosecutor's Office decided to prosecute Jelal Kikava for being in direct contempt of court. Judge Konstantine Kopaliani hears the case. The hearings would end soon.
5. Kakha Kukava's case: On October 7, 2022, Tbilisi City Court finalized the hearings of the case of administrative offense against the leader of the party "Free Georgia" Kakha Kukava, as well as Arsen Nadiradze and Mikheil Sakandelidze. The defendants were accused by the National Bureau of Enforcement under the Ministry of Justice of Georgia of committing the offense under Article 173(1) of the Code of Administrative Offenses of Georgia ("disobedience to the legal order or request of the police officer when performing official duties, or verbally insulting the person and / or conducting some other insulting actions against him/her"). Judge Nino Shcherbakov within the Panel of Administrative Matters of Tbilisi City Court agreed with the arguments by the administrative body fining Kakha Kukava and Mikheil Sakandelidze with GEL 2200 each and Arsen Nadiradze with GEL 2000.
6. Case of Levan Khabeishvili: The Prosecutor's Office of Georgia brought allegations against the Member of Parliament of Georgia, Levan Khabeishvili (Electoral Bloc: United National Movement United Opposition "Strength in Unity") for the offense under Article 126(1) (committing violence) of the Criminal Code. According to the case files, on January 24, 2020 Levan Khabeishvili physically assaulted Irakli Zarkua, the then Deputy Chairperson of Tbilisi City Council in the corridor of the premises of the City Council. The Prosecutor's Office of Georgia filed a motion with Tbilisi City Court to remand Levan Khabeishvili on bail of GEL 3,000. The motion was granted in part and the accused was remanded on bail of GEL 2,000. At this stage, the case is being heard on the merits at Tbilisi City Court. Judge Nino Nachkebia hears the case. Levan Khabeishvili and his lawyer state that the case is politically motivated and aims at redirecting the MP from the parliamentary activities (in case of proving the charges his MP authorities would be ceased).
HRC monitors the court proceedings of the cases with alleged political motives from February 2020. In the years 2020-23, 51 cases were under monitoring. Monitoring results and significant findings are published in the reports and analytical documents that can be found on HRC website - hrc.ge - under Reports and Research.