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Georgia re-thinks the fate of prisoners with life sentences

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, October 14
The Pardon Commission and the President of Georgia will discuss the fate of life prisoners. A statement concerning the issue was made by the head of the Pardon Commission Zviad Koridze for Kviris Palitra newspaper.

“Soon we will meet with the president. There are several issues the commission and the president need to agree on. The issue of prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment is one of them. We have many prisoners, and three women are among them. We would like to be more humane towards them, but I believe if there is no involvement of the media and civil sector, it will be hard for us to provide the public with this information in the proper way,’’ Koridze said.

Former head of the penitentiary system Giorgi Tughushi shares this opinion, stating that Europe supports a more humane attitude to such prisoners.

He admits that the prisoners should have hope that one day they might be released.

“The European court has changed its approach towards the life sentences, saying that life prisoners cannot be taken as more dangerous than other inmates. The court also stressed that their total isolation from other convicts was also unacceptable and inhumane. Some European states have already amended their legislation, giving a chance to prisoners with life sentences to address pardon commissions to discuss their cases after 15, 20 or 25 years of imprisonment,” Tughushi said.

Tughushi admitted that through the constitution the president has a right to pardon any prisoner without the Pardon Commission as well.

Former Head of the Pardon Commission Elene Tevdoradze is against the initiative.

According to her, murderers and drug dealers must not be pardoned.

She says that the commission and the president should take the position of the affected families into account.

“The Pardon Commission should have consultations with people who lost their beloved people. In general, I personally refused to pardon an individual who was sentenced for murder. Family members of those who were murdered came to me very often begging me not to pardon such inmates. Their position was significant for me,” Tevdoradze said.