On May 16, 2016, the Tbilisi City Court found five high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Defense guilty in the so-called “cable case” and sentenced them to seven years of imprisonment. At this stage, the substantiated judgment of the Court is not available, although the present statement is based the assessment of the circumstances and facts that were made public by the parties in the trial, as well as on the information obtained during the trials and that mentioned in open sources and reports.
The public had been observing the development of this case for a long time, and it should be noted that both the indictment and the events that developed during the trials raised questions among the public regarding the substantiation of the charges, the legal grounds for the preventative measure, the existence of reliable evidence in the case, and fair consideration of the case. Ultimately, these circumstances created a feeling that the administration of justice was deficient and the process was politicized.
From the very beginning, the aforementioned doubts were reinforced by the context and situation that existed in parallel with the development of the case. The indictment was preceded by open confrontation between the then Minister of Defense, Irakli Alasania, and the former Prime Minister, Bidzina Ivanishvili, which finally ended with the resignation of Mr. Alasania. Distrust towards the trial was also strengthened by the statements of former high-level officials. Particularly noteworthy was that the former Prime Minister, Bidzina Ivanishvili, was informed about the details of the case, whereas a part of the case was classified at that time. It remained unclear for the public why and how the persons who were not involved in the investigation and were not supposed to have access to the case materials possessed information about the details of the case.
It should also be noted that initially the entire “cable case” was classified by the decision of the Prosecutor’s Office, as a result of which the defense’s access to the materials of the criminal case was hindered for a certain period of time. The aforementioned was also echoed by the Public Defender who called on the Prosecutor’s Office to keep only those materials classified that contained information envisaged by the Law of Georgia on State Secrets and to declassify the remaining information to ensure the defense’s access to the materials of the criminal case. It should be mentioned that a video that the Prosecutor’s Office released shortly after the delivery of the judgment of conviction contains information about the network of secret strategic infrastructure envisaged by the “cable project”, which was one of the grounds for classifying this case.
As for the charges brought against the officials of the Ministry of Defense, the Prosecutor’s Office accused them of acting as an organized group and embezzling state funds in large amounts. There are several circumstances that raise questions in this regard:
The aforementioned legal circumstances and the questions related to the charges, as well as the preconditions of detention of the convicts and the context that existed during the development of the case, in conjunction with individual deficiencies revealed during the consideration of the case, create a feeling that justice was administrated in an inappropriate and biased manner in the “cable case”, which may have been caused by political influences. We, the undersigned NGOs, continue to observe this case, and we are going to make detailed assessments after we have studied the substantiated judgment of the Court.
Transparency International Georgia (TI Georgia)
Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC)
Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI)
Partnership for Human Rights (PHR)
International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED)
Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI)
Article 42 of the Constitution
Independent Experts’ Club
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