The judge has sentenced Nika Gvaramia to 3 years and 6 months of imprisonment and ordered him to be held in custody in the courtroom.
Judge of Tbilisi City Court Lasha Chkhikvadze announced the decision a few minutes ago.
The prosecution accuses Niki Gvaramia of "abuse of power against the legitimate interests of the TV company and misuse of a large amount of its assets." Along with him are two more accused - Kakha Damenia and Zurab Iashvili.
On Wednesday, the Parliament of Georgia appointed four Supreme Court judges for a life-long term. Such appointments, made before the existing shortcomings in the nomination process were addressed, are not in line with the recommendations of the OSCE/Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and of the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission.
These latest appointments contradict the commitment to ambitious judicial reform made by Georgia’s leaders in the political agreement of 19 April this year, and restated on 28 July. This included addressing issues in the Supreme Court nomination process before proceeding with appointments of the judges. These actions risks further undermining judicial independence and public trust in the Georgian justice system.
The European Union reiterates its calls on the Georgian authorities to strengthen the independence, accountability, and quality of the judicial system, including of the High Council of Justice, through a broad, inclusive and cross party reform process. The European Union reminds that, while it remains fully committed to support Georgia’s reforms in line with the EU-Georgia Association Agreement, the EU’s assistance to Georgia remains conditional on progress on key reforms, including on judiciary.
Statement by the EU Spokesperson
On October 31, while the country was focused on the municipal elections, the Judiciary selected two new members to the High Council of Justice, replacing the previously unannounced early resignation of two sitting members. The process was neither competitive nor transparent. A single candidate was offered for each vacancy. There was little advance notice of the intent to fill the seats left open by the pre-term resignations. There was no opportunity for consultations or participation by a broad range of qualified candidates, nor for meaningful engagement by relevant interlocutors and civil society. It is disappointing that the Judiciary missed the opportunity to show transparency and failed again to elect its representatives through a competitive and democratic election process.
The United States has long sought to build the capacity of qualified and dedicated judges while calling for reforms that would allow for accountability for judges who undermine the legitimacy of the judicial system. This includes seeking legislative amendments to avoid corporatism and to safeguard the principles of democracy, equality, and adherence to the Rule of Law. Judiciary leaders maintain the judiciary is unfairly criticized for the lack of transparent and merit-based appointments, promotions, and transfers. Yet when the Conference of Judges rushes through important decisions without competition or transparency, it demonstrates unwillingness to embrace reforms that would increase transparency, accountability and public trust in the appointment process, the candidates, and in the High Council of Justice. The many qualified, professional members of the judiciary who are shut out by such a closed system deserve better.
An ethical Judiciary is the backbone of a country’s adherence to Rule of Law. An independent and professional judicial system that is trusted by and serves the people is essential to promoting equitable growth and attracting investment by Georgian and foreign businesses. The United States will continue to advocate for and support reforms that will increase accountability, professionalism, and transparency to help Georgia attain the system of justice its people deserve and that is fundamental for Georgia’s chosen path of Euro-Atlantic integration.
The Chair of the Legal Issues Committee, Eka Beselia is to leave for Paris to participate in the sitting of the CoE Committee on Election of Judges to the European Court of Human Rights on April 6.
According to the agenda, the Committee will interview three candidates to the Judges nominated from Albania.
In a report published today, the Council of Europe's anti-corruption body, Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), acknowledged considerable progress in reducing corruption in Georgia and improving the country’s standing in international indices, and called on the Georgian authorities to continue implementing the reforms aimed at preventing corruption among parliamentarians, judges and prosecutors.
Among the positive developments noted by GRECO is the introduction of a monitoring mechanism for submitting asset declarations by public officials including parliamentarians, judges and high-level prosecutors. It is crucial now that the new rules be extended to cover all prosecutors, that they are effectively applied in practice and kept under constant review.
GRECO noted measures taken to prevent corruption among the members of parliament and increase accountability of their work, and recommends further enhancing transparency of the legislative process through the publication of all draft legislation, and developing an enforceable code of ethics/conduct. It also called for mandatory disclosure of parliamentarians’ conflicts of interest, in order to monitor and determine when and how personal interests of MPs might influence the decision-making process.
GRECO stressed the need to carry on with the important reform of the judiciary. It is of prime importance that the bill on the third stage of reform which is pending before the Parliament should now be adopted and implemented. GRECO recommends reforming the recruitment, promotion and transfer of judges, introducing an objective and transparent system for the allocation of cases (e.g. via random assisgnment), defining more precisely disciplinary offences, and limiting immunity of judges to activities related to their participation in judicial decision-making (”functional immunity”).
Offensive statements and unfounded allegations against the judges might become punishable. This initiative owns the High Council of Justice Secretary Levan Murusidze who made this statement at Tbilisi City Court in the frames of meeting with judges.
According to the initiative of Murusidze, offensive statements and unfounded allegations against the judges should envisage financial sanctions.
As you know, Chairperson of the Supreme Court Nino Gvenetadze and High Council members met with court judges at October 6. The sides discussed recent developments around the court.
The new judges of Constitutional Court should not deep and make new questions about court system – this statement was made by the Press speaker of President of Georgia Eka Mishveladze during commenting on teimuraz Tugushis’ election as member of Constitutional Court.
According to Mishveladze, the President can’t evaluate individual candidates but Giorgi Margvelashvili has already presented judges who are popular.
“It is good that the candidate nominated by the public also to be trusted,”-Eka Mishveladze said.
The Chairman of Constitutional Court of Georgia Giorgi Papuashvili talks about the surveillance and blackmail facts of individual judges. According to him, the pressure is underway on the judges who are working of high public interest cases.
“The targets are the individual judges who are working on public cases. There are facts of blackmails on their family members, relatives and their commercial jobs. All of the information is in connect with the high public interest cases. The goal is the judges to make decisions in favor of government,”-Giorgi Papuashvili said
A delegation of seven Judges of the European Court of Human Rights composed of Mirjana Lazarova-Trajkovska (“The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”), Nona Tsotsoria (Georgia), Vincent. A. De Gaetano (Malta), Helen Keller (Switzerland), Dmitry Dedov (Russian Federation), Jon Fridrik Kjølbro (Denmark) and Yonko Grozev (Bulgaria) took evidence from witnesses in Strasbourg from Monday 6 June to Friday 17 June 2016 in the case of Georgia v. Russia (II) (application no. 38263/08). The Court heard 33 witnesses in total: 16 summonsed through the Georgian Government, 11 summonsed through the Government of the Russian Federation and six summonsed directly by the Court. The application was lodged on 11 August 2008 under Article 33 (Inter-State cases) of the European Convention on Human Rights and concerns the armed conflict between Georgia and the Russian Federation in August 2008 and its aftermath. It raises issues under Articles 2 (right to life), 3 (prohibition of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment), 5 (right to liberty and security), 8 (right to respect for private and family life) and 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the Convention, under Articles 1 and 2 of Protocol No. 1 (protection of property and right to education), as well as under Article 2 of Protocol No. 4 (freedom of movement). Following a hearing on 22 September 2011, the application was declared admissible, without prejudging the merits of the case, by a Chamber on 13 December 2011 and relinquished to the Grand Chamber on 3 April 2012. The European Court of Human Rights will now continue its examination of the case.
The European Court of Human Rights was set up in Strasbourg by the Council of Europe Member States in 1959 to deal with alleged violations of the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights.