NGOs Urge the Authorities to React to Allegations Put Forward by Gigi Uglava

On December 21, 2013, Mayor of Tbilisi Gigi Ugulava made a statement prior to his trial that the judge presiding over the case was under duress of certain persons including current and former employees of the Interior Ministry's General Inspection. He identified concrete individuals who were allegedly exercising duress on the judge. It is our firm belief that relevant authorities should react to the statement in a timely and adequate manner. 

Over the years we have witnessed number of attempts of law-enforcement authorities to pressure the judicial system, impacting the quality of justice and trends in the development of the judicial system. While certain improvements have been apparent following the parliamentary elections, clearly that the situation is rather fragile and unstable. Under the circumstances, any attempt of interfering in judicial activities is extremely dangerous. For this very reason, it is crucially important that all alleged acts of infringement upon judicial independence are examined duly and in a timely manner. 
THE Chairman of the Tbilisi City Court should immediately exercise his powers delegated by law and start inquiring into facts of alleged improper communication with the judge. Further, the High Council of Justice, as a guarantor of judge's independence, should ensure that timely and due compliance of the Chairman of the Court with this obligation. In an event of identifying elements of crime prescribed by the Criminal Code be identified during the process of inquiry, the case should immediately be referred to the investigating authorities. 

General Public should receive a timely and founded response as to whether the allegations of the Tbilisi Mayor are valid. In addition, if these allegations are proven relevant measures of liability should be applied against individuals involved. 
We also urge representatives of all political parties to refrain from making political statements that may indirectly influence the judge's decision. Releasing false and inaccurate statements will clearly have a negative impact on the course of judicial proceedings. 

We would als like to express our position about another issue: the Prosecutor's Office was seeking a pre-trial detention for Gigi Ugulava as a preventive measure. A court hearing was scheduled on December 21, at 18:00. It has been reported that prior to the hearing the Prosecutor's Office raised another motion seeking Gigi Ugulava's dismissal from office (we do not have precise information on whether dismissal from office or suspension of official duties was sought). The judge has examined the motion on a pre-trial detention during oral hearing with participation of the prosecution and the defense and rejected it. The defendant was released on bail in the amount of 50,000 GEL. Following the announcement of this ruling, the same judge examined without involvement of either parties the motion of the Prosecutor's Office on dismissal of Gigi Ugulava from office and granted the request.   

Pursuant to the Criminal Procedure Code, the court is authorized to examine similar motions without participation of the parties. Yet, considering the high public interest in the present case and the fact that Tbilisi Mayor is an elected official, as well as the fact that that several hours before adopting the ruling the same judge delivered another ruling with involvement of both parties, it would be best to examine the motion on dismissal from office also with participation of the parties and to provide the defense an opportunity to put forward its arguments. The Criminal Procedure Code is based on the constitutional principle of equality and the adversarial nature of proceedings, and it is crucial that each judge is guided by this principle while trying any case. 

International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) 
Georgian Young Lawyers' Association (GYLA) 
Transparency International - Georgia 
Georgian Democratic Initiative (GDI) 
Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC) 
Georgian Bar Association 
Article 42 of the Constitution