Gigi Ugulava, the former Mayor of Georgia’s capital Tbilisi has been found guilty of misspending millions of public funds and been sentenced to four years and six months in jail.
Tbilisi City Court announced its verdict and Ugulava's sentence at 10pm last night.
Ugulava, one of the leading figures of the United National Movement (UNM) political party, was facing several charges for corruption, money laundering and illegal seizure of property.
The former official was acquitted on the money laundering charges.
Along with Ugulava, former Defence Minister David Kezerashvili also faced the same money laundering charges in absentia and he was also acquitted yesterday.
In Court yesterday Ugulava was found guilty of misspending several million GEL of public funds in 2009 when he was the Mayor. Specifically, Ugulava misspent about four million GEL public funds by creating almost 800 fictitious job positions in the capital city municipal service, through which funds were funneled to pay the salaries of UNM party activists.
Ugulava’s verdict came one day after he was released after spending 14 months in pre-trial detention.
Tbilisi City Court was obligated to release him yesterday, according to a law upheld by the Constitutional Court of Georgia, which declared that keeping an arrested individual in pre-trial detention for more than nine months was unlawful.
The issue was discussed in the Constitutional Court after Ugulava’s lawyers addressed the Court in April and appealed why their client remained in pre-trial detention for more than nine months.
Generally speaking the law stated the term of pre-trial detention imposed on an accused individual should not exceed nine months. However criminal procedures permit a person to be detained beyond the nine-month limit if new charges are filed against the same person.
In July 2014 the former official was sentenced to pre-trial detention. When the nine-month pre-trial detention period expired, the Chief Prosecutor’s Office requalified one of his charges and through the decision of Tbilisi City Court, Ugulava remained in custody.
After his verdict was announced yesterday, Ugulava said the court’s aim was not to find the truth but to jail him. He believed the verdict was "politically motivated”.
His lawyer said he would appeal the verdict to a higher court.