Prosecution Launches Investigation into Recent Presidential Pardons

The General Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia has launched an investigation into pardoning murder convicts by the President of Georgia Salome Zurbaishvili, saying the investigation has been launched into possible abuse of power in the process of pardoning.  

"The Prosecutor General's Office has launched an investigation into the possible abuse of power in the process of pardoning convicts Ramaz Devadze, Aslan Bezhanidze, Zurab Nadiradze and others, the offense envisaged by part 1 of Article 332 of the Criminal Code of Georgia," the prosecutor's office said.

The Agency does not specify whether Salome Zurabishvili will be questioned regarding the case.  

Zurabishvili pardoned Aslan Bezhanidze, a person convicted for the 2004 murder of Davit Otkhmezuri. He was detained in 2016. The Supreme Court found him guilty and imposed imprisonment with a term of 6 years and 9 months.

He was released from the penitentiary facility on August 28, Virgin Mary Day.

The President pardoned 34 prisoners in connection with Virgin Mary Day including a convict charged for the 2014 murder of police officer Tarash Mukbanian. The above caused outrage in society and among the opposition parties. 

The Public Defender of Georgia, Nino Lomjaria, has joined the public criticism regarding the pardoning of certain individuals, releasing the statement and calling on to her to ensure maximum transparency and public involvement while using the pardon power.

“The Georgian President pardoned 34 people on August 28, including the persons convicted of murdering police officer Tarash Mukbanian in 2014 and those convicted of killing Davit Otkhmezuri in 2004. The above caused fair outrage in society.

The Public Defender explains that the discretionary nature of the pardon power does not imply its use without any justification. Pardoning should be aimed at achieving a specific task – be it in light of state, political, judicial, or special individual circumstances. In each case, the use of such an exceptional power must be as perceptible and understandable as possible for the public.

The Public Defender of Georgia reminds everyone that the power of pardon is closely linked to the procedural obligation to protect the right to life. According to the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, the right to life is violated if state authorities show unreasonable tolerance towards the persons convicted of murder, which leads to their actual impunity.

Thus, in view of the commitment of the state to protect the right to life, the Public Defender of Georgia considers that the President of Georgia should satisfy a growing public interest and provide the public with further information on the reasonableness and arguments of her decisions," the ombudsman said.

Related Story: Public Defender on Pardoning Certain Individuals by President

By Ana Dumbadze 

20 September 2019 14:06
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