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The News in Brief

Wednesday, April 4
Georgians avoid death penalty in Malayasia

Georgia’s Prosecutor’s Office has begun negotiations on the extradition of Georgian nationals Darejan Kokhtashvili and Babutsa Gordadze from Malaysia, after both women had their death sentences commuted.

According to information provided to InterPressNews, Deputy Prosecutor Davit Sakvarelidze departed for Kuala Lumpur yesterday and negotiations with his Malaysian colleagues will be held regarding the ultimate fate of the two Georgian citizens.

The Prosecutor’s Office reports that a trial was held on Tuesday in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, in which a local court considered both the evidence and the arguments of the Georgian government, and sentenced Gordadze to eight years in prison, waiving the death penalty.

As a result of a two-year effort by the government, neither Kokhtashvili nor Gordadze face execution. According to Malaysian law, the crime of drug smuggling, of which the women were accused, carries a penalty of death by hanging. (IPN)

Bezhashvili: Party finance not an issue of opposing camps

Levan Bezhashvili, Chair of the Chamber of Control, has stated that the international practice of full transparency of political party finances regularly comes with more regulations than Georgian law.

“We’ll be satisfied and happy if the financial monitoring service of the Chamber of Control discovers fewer violations of the law and political parties do their best to make their activity transparent and not attempt to evade the law," he remarked.

Bezhashvili made his comments after a meeting with representatives of Latvia’s Anti-Corruption Bureau.

He added that it is important that the Chamber of Control does not frame the issue of financial transparency as one divided between opposing camps; on the contrary, all Georgians should try to foster transparency together.

“We, along with the parties, must create a transparent political system and that’s why we actively carry out our mandate. Our activities are in compliance with international practices and I want to tell you that international practices have more difficult regulations. Our law has quite liberal standards regarding financial transparency of the political parties,” Bezhashvili maintained. (IPN)

Nearly forty prisoners win early release

The local councils of the State Parole Commission assembled today to discuss the cases of numerous prison inmates, and made the decision to release 39 prisoners before the end of their sentences. Four of the released convicts are women, and none are minors.

The three councils of the Parole Commission assemble once a month to assess the cases of inmates who have applied for early release.

The Commission also discusses recommendations of the regional commissions once every three months. (Rustavi 2)

Labour Party wants referendum on Georgia's participation in ISAF

The Georgian Labour Party has called on the government to conduct a referendum alongside the parliamentary elections this fall, in which voters will be able pass judgment on the participation of Georgian military units in the ISAF mission to Afghanistan.

The opposition party has already submitted a request to the Central Referendum Commission.

"We have submitted a statement to the Referendum Commission, in which we demand a referendum alongside the parliamentary elections, in which the voters will be able to make a decision on the presence of Georgian units in Afghanistan. The issue [is important] to all of our citizens and it should be decided via referendum," the Party's political secretary Giorgi Gugava said. (Rustavi 2)

Ministry of Justice hosts Lazika conference

The experimental, from-the-ground-up, future town of Lazika was the subject of a conference hosted by the Ministry of Justice. As InterPressNews reports, representatives from the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, the President of the National Bank of Georgia, American experts, and students from the Free University took part in the working meeting.

The conference was opened by Deputy Minister of Justice Giorgi Vashadze, who spoke about goals of the meeting.

“The construction of a new town is an ambitious and interesting project. Selecting the geographic location, working on the town’s concept, planning the construction, determining its economy and politics... Working on the issues is important and responsible from the beginning. It demands new ideas, new viewpoints. The young must be actively involved in the construction of the new town, as Lazika will be the town of the new generation first of all," Vashadze remarked.

The Ministry of Justice reports that the conference participants discussed the town's political and economic context, such as the constitutional status of special development regions, its legal and judicial system, and even its role in Georgia's foreign relations and national defense. Examples from around the world were cited in the town's planning.

The Lazika conference is scheduled to conclude Thursday. (IPN)

Georgia asks Canada to resume rescue operation

The Georgian embassy in Canada has submitted a letter sent by the relatives of the two Georgian nationals who have been missing since their yacht sank off the coast of Nova Scotia. In it, the families ask for the resumption of the search and rescue operation. Canadian authorities have not yet responded to the letter.

In addition, the embassy is waiting for the official identification documents of another Georgian national, Tengiz Motsonelidze, who died in the accident.

The rescue operation was suspended two days ago due to poor weather conditions. The rescuers have cast doubts on rumors of eyewitnesses that the Georgians managed to get into a rescue capsule.

The vessel, SV Tabasco 2, sank in Canada waters on March 27. Nine Georgian, Russian and Ukrainian citizens were on board, allegedly trying to enter Canada illegally. (Rustavi 2)