The Court Found Mikheil Saakashvili, the Ex-president of Georgia, Guilty

2018-01-05 10:57:31

Tbilisi City Court fully relied on the evidence submitted by the prosecution and rendered the judgment of guilt against the ex-president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili and found him guilty under Article 332 §2 of the Criminal Code of Georgia into the fact of abuse of official power in the course of pardoning the individuals convicted for Sandro Girgvliani case. By virtue of the court judgment, the convict Mikheil Saakashvili was sentenced to three years of deprivation of liberty taking into account the Amnesty Act of Georgia. Deprivation of the right to pursue business activities for the term of one year and six months was also applied against the same person as an additional penalty.
Mikheil Saakashvili was indicted and new circumstances in relation to Aleksandre Girgvliani case were exposed within the framework of renewed investigation conducted by the Prosecution Service of Georgia, which was supervised by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe based on the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), Strasbourg, within the process of enforcing the decision of the Court. The Court Stated: “[The Court] is struck by how the different branches of State power – the Ministry of the Interior, as regards the initial shortcomings of the investigation, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, as regards the remaining omissions of the investigation, the Prisons Department, as regards the unlawful placement of the convicts in the same cell, the domestic courts, as regards the deficient trial and the convicts’ early release, the President of Georgia, as regards the unreasonable leniency towards the convicts, and so on – all acted in concert in preventing justice from being done in this gruesome homicide case.”
Evidence submitted before the court incontrovertibly proved that on January 27, 2006, at Café Chardin in Tbilisi, Alexandre Girgvliani had a verbal argument with Tatia Maisuradze who was sitting at the table of the spouse of the then Interior Minister Ivane Merabishvili and David Akhalaia, the Head of the Constitutional Department. Upon David Akhalaia’s instruction, officers of the Constitutional Security Department, who were summoned at the Café, forced Aleksandre Girgvliani and his friend into a car, illegally deprived their liberty and took out of the city to the Okrokana Cemetery. 
The kidnappers undressed Aleksandre Girgvliani and his friend in a freezing cold and severely beat them. The corpse of the tortured Aleksandre Girgvliani was discovered in the vicinity of the Okrokana Cemetery.
According to the case evidence it has been established that the President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili was informed of the crime and the persons involved in the commission thereof from the very beginning. He was aware that the public disclosure of the involvement of the high officials of the Ministry of Interior, connection of the wife of Minister Merabishvili with the incident and the fact that the Head of the Constitutional Security Department David Akhalaia had organized the crime would negatively affect the ratings and authority of the government. It would have increased the discontent of the public towards the government and the issue of political and criminal liability of close affiliates of the President – namely Ivane Merabishvili and David Akhalaia – would also inevitably be raised.
In view of these threats, after having the consent and unconditional support of the President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili,  Ivane Merabishvili – the Minister of Interior, Bachana Akhalaia – the Head of the Penitentiary Department and his brother David Akhalaia – the Head of the Constitutional Security Department, with the view to conceal the crime committed against Aleksandre Girgvliani, falsify the criminal case and mislead the public, mutually planned and carried out criminal activities through the state authorities subordinated to them.
In particular, Ivane Merabishvili, who was assured that high level officials of the Ministry of Interior would have been exposed in commission of the crime, that his wife was connected with the crime and the crime itself was organized by David Akhalaia, was obliged to ensure an independent and impartial investigation of the crime. Nonetheless, he assigned the organizer of the crime David Akhalaia to lead the investigation.
Correspondingly, the biased investigation was carried out by the investigators of the authority led by Ivane Merabishvili, who had close professional link with the high officials of the Ministry of Interior involved in the commission of the crime and depended upon the individuals, who in their turn had personal interests in the results of improper investigation.
Therefore, no objective and thorough investigation has been ensured into the case.
In the second half of February 2006, David Akhalaia in his part gathered the officers of the Constitutional Security Department who participated in kidnapping and due to the emergency situation categorically demanded that some of them should have incriminated themselves and not name the persons who ordered the crime and other high officials directly involved therein. In return, he promised that they would be convicted with less grave charges and be released in short terms under the presidential pardon. Furthermore, he promised to handle their daily family problems during their stay at prison, to provide them with solid financial resources and other advantages, which implied ensuring privileged conditions for them while serving the sentence. 
Several days later, a meeting was held at the General Prosecutor’s Office in order to determine those who would be held liable in relation to the Girgvliani case. With the view to satisfy the growing public demand for justice, it was decided that one high official of the Ministry of Interior – Geronti Alania – would be charged together with other lower ranking officials. Thus, David Akhalaia and other high officials connected with the crime would have been excluded from the criminal liability.
The same day, following the decision at the General Prosecutor’s Office, a further meeting was held with Mikheil Saakashvili among others in order to solve the issue related to persons to be charged into Girgvliani case and theirs subsequent release under the pardon. In addition, the President Mikheil Saakashvili promised David Akhalaia to pardon the individuals at issue after convicting them. G. Alania, O. Melnikov and other persons to be held liable were informed about the promise of the president by David Akhalaia immediately after leaving the presidential residence.
After these illegal promises, Ivane Merabishvili, David Akhalaia and other officials of the Ministry of Interior planned and led the investigation into the crime committed against Aleksandre Girgvliani in a manner to assure that only low and middle level officials of the Constitutional Security Department were to be held liable, and David Akhalaia and others would have been unlawfully diverted from responsibility.
With the view to mislead public and create a false expectation that a case had been opened, on March 6, 2006, a public announcement was made whereby it was asserted that, as a result David Akhalaia’s concerted efforts the persons involved in the crime committed against Aleksandre Girgvliani - Geronti Alania, the Head of the Unit at the Constitutional Security Department; together with Alexandre Ghachava, Mikheil Bibiluridze and Avtandil Aphtsiauri - were exposed. They were arrested on the charges of illegal deprivation of liberty and infliction of health damage to Aleksandre Girgvliani that resulted in death.
For the purpose of reinforcing the promise given by David Akhalaia and expressing his moral support, the Interior Minister Ivane Merabishvili met the defendants (immediately upon their arrest) at the pre-trial detention cell in the so-called Moduli building. The Minister feasted with them in the cell and pledged his support and assistance, and reassured them that they would not face any problems with abiding by the promises given by David Akhalaia, which were executed accordingly.
The court found Georgni Alania, Avtandil Aphtsiauri, Mikheil Bibiluridze and Alexandre Ghachava guilty for inflicting damage to health, illegal deprivation of liberty and abusing official power. The defendants received the following sentences: Geronti Alania - 7 years and 6 months of deprivation of liberty; Mikheil Bibiluridze, Avtandil Aphtsiauri and Alexandre Ghachava - 6 years and 6 months of deprivation of liberty.
In compliance with prior promises and by virtue of Bachana Akhalaia’s endeavor persons convicted for crimes committed against Aleksandre Girgvliani enjoyed illegal privileges while serving sentences.
In addition, in return for the concealment of the actual circumstances of the crime and the participation of David Akhalaia and other officials of the Ministry of Interior in the crime, each of the convicts was gradually awarded with USD 100 000.
On November 24, 2008, the then President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili abused his official power and in accordance with the illegal promise beforehand given to David Akhalaia, bypassing the Pardon Commission, pardoned Geronti Alania, Alexandre Ghachava, Mikheil Bibiluridze and Avtandil Aphtsiauri and reduced the prison term of each of these individuals by half. As a result, it became possible to apply towards these persons the mechanism of early conditional release.
Consequently, joint and cooperated criminal actions of different branches of state power, orchestrated by the President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili, obstructed administration of justice in relation to Aleksandre Girgvliani case, actual circumstances of the case were falsified and David Akhalaia and others were released from criminal liability. These actions caused substantial violation of the rights of Aleksandre Girgvliani family and of the legitimate interests of the state.
We would like to remind the public that within the framework of the renewed investigation, the court has rendered judgment of guilt against 7 other persons, including Ivane merabishvili and Bachana Akhalaia, for concealing the crime committed against Aleksandre Girgvliani, falsifying the investigation and creating comfortable conditions non-compliant with the law for the convicts. Tbilisi City Court is hearing the case on merits against David Akhalaia.