Georgian Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili on Friday said the United States Department of State’s “personal attack” on four Georgian judges it had sanctioned on Wednesday, and its labelling of the individuals as “corrupt” was “absolutely unacceptable”, adding “partners do not act like that”.
The comment followed the sanctions on Mikheil Chinchaladze, Levan Murusidze, Irakli Shengelia and Valerian Tsertsvadze, which the State Department said had been issued for their “involvement in significant corruption”.
The DoS comments on the decision also said the judges had “abused their positions as court chairmen and members of Georgia’s High Council of Justice, undermining the rule of law and the public’s faith in Georgia’s judicial system”.
In his remarks following his meeting with the US Ambassador Kelly Degnan, Papuashvili said Degnan had noted the move was not a sanction but a “visa restriction”, and that there had been a “language translation problem” in its representation to the Georgian public.
We talked about the evidence behind this [decision], and the Ambassador reiterated that the decision was based solely on information from mostly public sources. Additional information does not seem to exist”, the Parliament Speaker said.
“From my point of view, making such serious accusations, personally attacking Georgian judges and labelling them as corrupt judges is absolutely unacceptable. Partners do not act like that”, Papuashvili said.
The lawmaking body’s official stressed the necessity of “presenting facts” substantiating allegations, ensuring the right to a fair trial and guarantees for the presumption of innocence.
If there is no evidence, then we expect that this restrictive measure will be withdrawn. It is our expectation - and this was also the case in the letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - that either evidence is presented or, if there is none, or if it is not sufficient, then this restriction is lifted”, he noted.
“We cannot refer to Georgian citizens as corrupt without evidence. When a person is accused of a criminal offence, the facts must be presented, the right to a fair trial must be protected, and the presumption of innocence must be guaranteed”, Papuashvili concluded.