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Political prisoner topic still controversial

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, November 22
The Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association claims that studying the issues of possible political prisoners and those persecuted on behalf of political motivations are ongoing. The GYLA also states that information was leaking from the working group that was discussing the criminal cases of these categories of individuals. Moreover, minority representatives have emphasized that inmates’ family members were carrying out pressure on the NGOs’ representatives.

GYLA which was a member of the working group studying the cases of possible political prisoners, left the group several days ago stating that the format of the group and two weeks term given to the group for studying the cases, were unacceptable for them.

Chair of GYLA, Tamar Chugoshvili made more detailed statements on November 21. According to her, from the beginning there was an agreement within the group that the process will be led according to the Euro Commission’s standards. However, serious problems emerged later.

“Information was leaked from the group. Various inmates’ families were called and they reported that there were individuals within the working group that were against the inmates’ entrance on the list. This irritated the families,” Chugoshvili stated, adding that the GYLA wanted the cases to be deeply studied when their position was strictly opposed by the other members from the group, like Nana Kakabadze.

The GYLA did not specify who might be a group member or from whom the information was flowing.

The chair of the NGO Article 42 of Constitution (the NGO also left the group), Nazi Janezashvili, has expressed doubt that the information was leaked by the former chair of the NGO Former Political Prisoners for Human Rights, Nana Kakabadze. According to Janezashvili, the statements made by Kakabadze enabled her to think so.

“When the GYLA and our organization left the group, Kakabadze held a press conference and made comments that suggested we were blocking some inmates being on the list. It was false information and makes me suspicious,” Janezashvili stated.

Kakabadze responded to the accusations and called it slanderous and immoral.

“I ask them to name a single concrete fact that shows I did such a thing. The NGOs are creating sabotage which is groundless,” Kakabadze stated, adding that the actions of the group have been open and transparent and there was no need to hide something from public.

“What does "leaking of information mean?" None of our meetings were closed and confidential. There was nothing to hide,” Kakabadze pointed out.

The issue was emphasized by the minority representatives at the parliament on the same day. According to MP Goka Gabashvili, those NGOs that are against inmates being placed on the list of political prisoners are under threat and pressure from those inmates’ families.

Executive Director of the GYLA, Eka Popkhadze, confirmed the fact that information was really leaking. However, she denied that NGO representatives were under threat from any inmates’ family members.

Parliament Chair, Davit Usupashvili became personally interested in the issues and stated that he will clear up what is going on in this direction.

“I am personally interested to know if there was some threat from the inmates’ families on NGOs. If such facts really existed I appeal to all who were the victims of such actions to address me. Through such methods, no one should be sent to prison or released from prison,” Usupashvili stated.

"Political amnesty will be granted to political prisoners and political refugees," Eka Beselia, head of the Human Right Parliamentary Committee, stated on November 21.

The Human Rights Committee declared 184 people as political prisoners, and 22 people were designated as political refugees. Among the political refugees is former Defense Minister Irakli Okruaishvili, who has just returned to Georgia.