Illegally taken-over properties will return to rightful owners, say officials

Ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili-led government was believed to stand behind a multiple cases of illegal seizure of property., 04 Mar 2015 - 17:31, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgians who had their properties illegally confiscated by the previous government will have their land returned or be compensated for their loss, officials announced today.

The former government led by ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili is believed to be responsible for multiple cases of illegal seizure of property.

Currently there are about 700 properties in state possession – these are believed to be illegally seized from their legal holders during Saakashvili’s presidential term.

It is believed some property holders were forced or threatened to hand over their properties to the former government for free or for a symbolic amount of money, such as one GEL.

Today Finance Minister Nodar Khaduri said there was money in the state budget that would go towards compensation for families who had their properties unlawfully taken off them.

"We will wait for the investigation into these cases to end and then we will do what the court decides. At the moment there already is money in the budget to fulfil the court decision [if compensation is involved],” Khaduri said.

Economy Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said over the past two years the Government did not sell those properties, as it believed these properties could have been illegally repossessed by the former government. He said if the investigation proved a property had been illegally seized from the rightful owner, the property would be returned to them.

The Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia has spent a long time completing "important work” – it has systemized and sorted all the cases, Kvirikashvili said.

Meanwhile all the suspected illegally-repossessed properties were not currently in state possession.

Kvirikahsvili said in this situation the state could take different action where if the seized property was not available to be returned, the land could be replaced with another property.

"Justice must be restored – there is no doubt about this,” he added.