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The News in Brief

Thursday, January 10
Amnesty law will take effect on January 12

The amnesty law will take effect on January 12 and at the first stage, political prisoners will leave prison, said Sozar Subari, the Minister of Legal Assistance and Corrections, Justice Minister Thea Tzulukiani and the Chairwoman of the Parliamentary Committee of Human Rights, Eka Beselia, at a joint press conference on January 9.

According to Beselia, if President Mikheil Saakashvili does not sign the law by January 11, the Parliament Chairman will execute it on January 12.

“Political prisoners will be released without trial, meaning they will leave prison immediately,” Eka Beselia said. Minister Subari added that release of political prisoners will start on January 13. All 190 people will leave prisons at the same time. As for other prisoners, the minister said the parliament gave two weeks term to the Ministry of Legal Assistance and Corrections for sending cases to courts. Courts have a two month term for releasing the prisoners. (IPN)

Government requests jury trial in high-profile cases

The Ministry of Justice has tabled a draft of legislative amendments, which, if approved by the parliament, will make it possible to apply jury trials to those high-profile cases in which former government officials were charged after the new government came to office.

Jury trials were introduced in Georgia in late 2011, but currently it only applies to cases of aggravated murder and cases of murder committed in the heat of passion, as well as in cases of rape.

According to the draft of the legislative amendment proposed by the Justice Ministry, jury trials should also apply to those cases in which former or current officials face criminal charges; the same should also apply to those who have not held public office but are charged in those same cases in which former officials were involved.

“The goal of the bill is to strengthen the jury system and also to provide to former high-ranking officials the right to use the democratic aspects of a jury trial as a verdict. A verdict delivered by a jury enjoys higher public trust,” the Justice Ministry said in a statement on January 9.

The idea of applying jury trials to the cases in which former government officials have been charged was first voiced by Chief Prosecutor Archil Kbilashvili on December 20. (Civil.Ge)

Maia Panjikidze refrains from nominating candidates for new ambassadors

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maia Panjikidze, refrained from naming candidates for new ambassadors. She said that although the candidates have already been agreed upon by the Prime Minister and her colleagues, she does not want to name them yet. Panjikidze once again explained that those 6 ambassadors were recalled, whose terms of office are to expire by April 1. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, these are ambassadors of Hungary, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Latvia, Vienna and the OSCE. While ambassador to the USA, according to Panjikidze, resigned of his own will. (IPN)

Fugitive ex-minister’s lawyer demands publicity of proceedings

Lawyer of the former minister of justice, Zurab Adeishvili, who currently is in Belgium, demands public access to the court proceedings, which will begin on February 28. Gocha Svanidze briefed about it yesterday answering the questions of the media. He said although he did not have direct contact with his defendant he only discussed the details of the case with his parents. Svanidze said he does not know whether Adeishvili was granted political asylum by Belgium’s government or not. (Rustavi 2)

Civil Aviation Unions calls on government to revise strategy

Chairperson of the Civil Aviation Unions Giorgi Kodua says 90% of the aviation sector is monopolized in Georgia causing expensive costs on flights. Kodua defined yesterday that the additional tax collections imposed for national air transport companies has resulted in a rise of prices on flights. Kodua calls on the government to revise the aviation strategy; otherwise, he fears the current system will affect development of tourism in the country.

“Development of the air-sector depends on chief tariffs and direct flights, but during the past few years the only development we had was night flights, transit flights and a high cost of tickets. Therefore, it is natural that the development of tourism sector may be affected,” Kodua said. (Rustavi 2)

Probation Minister comments on Ombudsman`s recommendation

The Public Defender of Georgia calls on the Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assistance to provide all convicts in prisons with TV sets. Ucha Nanuashvili has sent the recommendation to Minister Sozar Subari. Nanuashvili says the monitoring revealed that inmates have no TV sets in N7 and N9 prisons. However, commenting on the ombudsman’s recommendation, Minister Subari said the ministry is working on the problem and soon every convict will have TV sets in the cells. (Rustavi 2)

Snowfall to slow down in Tbilisi from today

Clearing efforts are under way in Tbilisi suburbs because of intensive snowfall.

The population can call Tbilisi City Hall’s hotline – 272 22 22 if they have problems getting around, City Hall told InterpressNews. However, snowfall will slow down in Tbilisi from today, while weather will brighten up from January 11, according to the Monitoring and Forecast Center of the Ministry of National Agency of Environment. Dry weather is in the forecast throughout Georgia on 11 and 12 January. It will be raining in western Georgia and several regions of eastern Georgia on 13 and 14 January. As for Tbilisi, the weatherman says dry weather is in the forecast from January 11. (IPN)