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President removes conditional sentence and criminal record for former criminal

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, August 21
Tens of thousands former criminal will no longer have conditional sentences or criminal record. A statement concerning the issue was made by the president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili on August 19. The decision was assessed as "populist" by the majority members.

"A step towards renewal and recovery of the society that would give tens of thousands of citizens a new chance, and a new opportunity to start a new life," such explanation was given to the decision made by Saakashvili who claims that the step will not cause an increase in crime.

Speaking of the decision the president strictly criticized the recent large-scale amnesty initiated and carried out by the Georgian Dream government. He stressed that the amnesty was illegal and has led to increased crime in Georgia.

Saakashvili emphasized that the interior ministry statistics are no longer trustworthy and that the number of murders and pedophilia facts have seriously grown.

The president said that there are crimes for which conditional sentences and criminal record will not be expunged. These are premeditated murder; murder in aggravating circumstances; sex crimes committed against minors; trafficking; torture; crimes related to ‘thieves-in-law’; crimes related to nuclear materials and the illegal transit of radioactive materials; crimes committed against humanity and the state.

Head of the president’s administration, Andro Barnovi, said that it is the president’s desire “to make one strong, significant step for advancement until his presidential term expires.”

He thinks the only aim of the decision was to remove restrictions for those offenders who had already answered for their criminal actions.

“It's a bad populist decision that opposes the pardon act and creates danger for public security,” said Georgian Dream member, Vakhtang Khmaladze.

According to Khmaladze, the president’s decision revealed that the situation will not be adequately studied and thousands of people would be freed from restrictions without appropriately studying of their cases.

Advisor of the head of the penitentiary system, Lali Moroshkina stresses that the president has a right to pardon people. However, she has got a list that those people who had been pardoned by the president were charged for murder, murder in aggravated circumstances and pedophilia.

“Those released by the president for years create a danger for the public and not those who were released through the large-scale amnesty,” Moroshkina said.

Representative of Georgian Young Lawyers' Association (GYLA), Eka Popkhadze, says that the president's decision fits into the legal frames. However, the GYLA has questions for the president.

"Of course, the initiative will lighten the condition of those individuals who have conditional sentences or a criminal record. If those people committed crimes while they had conditional sentence their charge would be heavier. The president's statement is surprising, as he expressed and still expresses criticism towards the amnesty act issued by the new state leadership," Popkhadze said.

Those who want to use the president’s initiative will have to register through telephone at the president’s administration and then the administration staff member will inform them when and where they should deliver an application concerning the removal conditional sentence or criminal record.