Prosecutor’s Office reviews 3 convictions rendered before 2012

Georgian Prime Minister today instructed Justice Minister to establish a working group for reforming prosecution. Building of Chief Prosecutor's Office in Tbilisi., 26 Jul 2016 - 18:34, Tbilisi,Georgia

Three men sent to jail by the previous government did not commit the crimes they were convicted of, says the Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia.

Today the Office said "irrefutable cumulative evidence” had been obtained from several thorough investigations that showed the three men - Ioseb Jandieri, Temur Salakaia and Andro Chkhikvishvili - never committed the crimes they were convicted for.

Today the Office said it had launched a review of three convictions dished out before October 1, 2012. The Prosecutor’s Office’s Department of Investigation of Offences Committed in the Course of Legal Proceedings will be in charge of the review.

Earlier a special working group was created within Parliament of Georgia, which was tasked to develop a legislation change in relation to a simplified review of convictions. Parliament amended Article 310 of the Criminal Procedure Code in July 2016, according to which if new facts and circumstances are revealed in the scope of a new investigation that had not been known at the time of delivering previous judgments, and the Prosecutor’s Office issues a decision on the violation of rights of the person convicted, it shall be the basis for re-trial and conviction review.

On the basis of this legislative change, the new Department of the Prosecutor’s Office decided to review several judgments handed down against Jandieri, Salakaia and Chkhikvishvili before the 2012 Parliamentary Elections.

The Office said before it reached its decision to review the verdicts, several comprehensive investigations had been carried out, new witnesses had been interrogated, dozens of investigative and procedural actions had enacted, investigation and court case files had been studied and new evidence and facts had been obtained.

From this, "irrefutable cumulative evidence” had been obtained that showed the three men had never committed the crimes they had been convicted for, said the Office.

"In particular, the investigation has revealed that Ioseb Jandieri, Temur Salakaia and Andro Chkhikvishvili had been convicted and were serving their sentences due to their political views being unacceptable for the previous government and due to their failure to comply with [the then government’s] illegal demands,” the Prosecutor’s Office said in today’s statement.

Ioseb Jandieri case

Prosecutors said the criminal prosecution was launched against Jandieri for the sole reason that he had demonstratively left the political party United National Movement (UNM).

The Office said since 2003, Jandieri had been working as Head of the Rapid Response Service to Emergency Situations of UNM. On November 4, 2007 during a protest demonstration in front of Parliament, Jandieri left the political party and joined the protest, where he demonstratively tore the political party membership mandate to shreds.

"In the days following the [rally], on November 13, 2007 officers of the Special Operations Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs entered his house and planted narcotic substance - heroin in his bedroom and arrested Ioseb Jandieri. The March 10, 2008 judgement of Tbilisi City Court falsely charged Ioseb Jandieri on purchasing and keeping narcotic substances and he was sentenced to deprivation of liberty for a term of eight years,” the Office said.

On November 24, 2008 Jandieri left prison on the basis of a presidential clemency.

Temur Salakaia case

Another citizen whose conviction will be reviewed was former officer of the Constitutional Security Department of the Interior Ministry Temur Salakaia. The Prosecutor’s Office today said he was arrested only because he was suspected of having links with the Georgian Dream political party.

"Namely, on June 2, 2012, Temur Salakaia was driving a motor vehicle, heading towards his house together with his wife, whereupon he was called from his Department and asked to go to Chanturia Street, in the vicinity of the Ministry of Economy of Georgia,” the Prosecutor’s Office said.

"Then and there, by joint actions of officers of the Constitutional Security Department and Old Tbilisi Division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, Temur Salakaia’s arrest was staged – on the grounds that he had allegedly purchased and kept the narcotic substance heroin.”

After being arrested Salakaia was taken to Old Tbilisi Police Department where he was reportedly forced to admit his allegiance with the Georgian Dream party. Salakaia categorically denied this.

"On June 4, 2012, false charges were filed against him on the count of purchasing and possessing narcotic substances, he was sentenced to imprisonment as the measure of constraint, and was housed in a correctional facility. He could only be released from prison on October 5, 2012 after the change of government,” prosecutors said.

Andro Chkhikvishvili case

The Prosecutor’s Office said the third victim was Andro Chkhikvishvili, who had served five years in prison on the basis of a falsified expert report.

"In particular, Andro Chkhikvishvili was a representative of a Swiss company in Georgia, to which the Ministry of Energy of Georgia had liabilities,” the Office said.

In September 2006 Chkhikvishvili was summoned to the Chief Prosecutor’s Office and told to convince the Swiss company to free Georgia from its financial responsibility to the company.

"Following Andro Chkhikvishvili’s refusal to the above demand, he was arrested on October 18, 2006 and falsely charged with fraud, which was based on the falsified expert report drawn up by Nugzar Belkania, a former expert of the Levan Samkharauli National Forensics Bureau,” the Office said.

By judgment of July 4, 2007 of Tbilisi City Court, Chkhikvishvili was found guilty. He spent five years in prison based on the "falsified evidence”, prosecutors said.

The Prosecutor’s Office said the rights of these three men had been violated. Prosecutors now intended to lodge and appeal with Tbilisi Court of Appeals seeking a review of the convictions due to newly revealed evidence.