International legal experts recommend continuing prosecution of Saakashvili on Gelashvili case

  • "We believe that you should continue your investigation and move towards trial," read the conclusion of international experts. Photo by Agenda.ge/N.Alavidze
Agenda.ge, 23 Oct 2014 - 21:33, Tbilisi,Georgia

The Chief Prosecutor’s office of Georgia has published the preliminary conclusion of the International Prosecution Advisory Panel on Valeri Gelashvili’s case regarding charges against ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, ex-Interior Minister Ivane (Vano) Merabishvili and former top officials Erekle Kodua and Gia Siradze.

"We believe that the existing material is legally and factually sufficient to proceed with the prosecution of Saakashvili, Merabishvili, Kodua and Siradze for various offenses relating to a physical assault on Valeri Gelashvili on July 14, 2005. We believe that you should continue your investigation and move towards trial, where any remaining issues will be addressed during the adversarial process,” read the pre-conclusion of world leading legal experts, published on Chief Prosecutor’s Office official website.

International Prosecution Advisory Panel members wrote this conclusion after months of reviewing materials relating to the assault of Gelashvili, a member of Georgia’s Parliament, on July 14, 2005.

Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor Giorgi Badashvili assessed the legal experts’ conclusion and said "maintaining political independence is an underlying principle of this investigation and this office”.

"This esteemed International panel’s findings affirm that the Georgian justice system is operating in a fair and transparent manner,” he stated in a press release by the Chief Prosecutor’s Office.

International Prosecution Advisory Panel

The three international legal experts were invited to Georgia by the Chief Prosecutor’s Office on July 22, 2014 to help develop the country’s legal representation and raise the standards of impartiality, fairness, consistency and transparency in sensitive cases involving high-ranking public officials.

The panel consisted of internationally recognised former prosecutors who each have a high degree of international credibility and extensive experience in investigating and prosecuting cases involving former government officials in numerous domestic and international tribunal settings.

  • Sir Geoffrey Nice QC is a former Deputy Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court for former Yugoslavia (1998-2006) and during that time he led the prosecution of former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic. He co-authored a report on an investigation into the torture and executions of detainees in Syria with Sir Desmond de Silva QC and David Crane. Sir Geoffrey is currently a part-time Judge and serves as a Professor of Law at Gresham College in London.
  • Moshe Lador served as the State Prosecutor of Israel until the end of 2013, where he oversaw the indictment of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and several other senior government officials. Mr Lador previously served as the District Attorney of Jerusalem.
  • Paul Coffey is a former Chief of the US Department of Justice's Organised Crime and Racketeering Section. After leaving this role, he was appointed as a top justice official in the United Nations mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). He was actively engaged in Kosovo’s justice system reform and was responsible for the oversight and prosecution of all criminal cases handled by the United Nations in Kosovo, including war crime prosecutions.

Valeri Gelashvili’s case

The Prosecutor’s Office claimed Saakashvili ordered the attack on Gelashvili after he gave an interview with local newspaper Resonansi on June 29, 2005, where he commented about the personal life and construction of the residence of the-then president. He also accused the Saakashvili of unlawfully confiscating his property without compensation.

In retaliation to the interview, Saakashvili allegedly ordered the attack on the Gelashvili, who was a member of Georgia’s Parliament.

According to the investigation, Saakashvili commissioned the-then minister of defence Irakli Okruashvili to physically abuse Gelashvili, however Okruashvili refused to comply with the order.

The Office claimed Saakashvili then instructed Merabishvili to physically assault Gelashvili. Merabishvili accepted the offer and together with Kodua, who was head of the Special Operative Department subordinated to the Minister of Interior Affairs, carried out the attack on Gelashvili on July 14, 2005.

"In particular, Gelashvili was driving his vehicle [near] Mirtskhulava Street in Tbilisi, when operative officers of the Special Operative Department together with the armed Special Task Force officers blocked Gelashvili’s vehicle and attacked [him] and his [passengers]. Upon Kodua’s instruction and under the guidance of Giorgi Siradze, the head of the unit at the Special Operative Department, the Special Task Force officers forced Valeri Gelashvili and his accompanies out of their car under gun threat. Valeri Gelashvili was further forced to the ground and severely beaten up with firearm butts,” claimed the Prosecutor’s Office.

Initially, the investigation into the attack on Gelashvili was launched on July 14, 2005 – the same day as the incident.

The Prosecutor’s Office claimed no effective investigative actions had been carried out during initial investigation with the view of establishing the objective truth in this case.

The case remained unsolved until the investigation resumed in 2013.

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