Zugdidi District Court sentenced former governor of the Kodori Gorge, Emzar Kvitsiani to 12 years in jail.
Kvitsiani sentenced to 12 years
By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, November 18
According to Emzar Kvitsiani’s lawyer, he will appeal the sentence. The lawyer claims that the judge was influenced by prosecutors. He stresses that Kvitsiani was told to confess his guilt and then be released. However, Kvitsiani refused to accept the unfair offer.
Kvitsiani was wanted under the previous government. When the Georgian Dream coalition took office Kvitsiani decided to return to Georgia from Russia and was detained at Tbilisi Airport on February 28, 2014.
Kvitsiani, who was wanted since 2006 for charges related to the formation of illegal armed groups and armed mutiny, said before his arrival that although knowing that the authorities were going to arrest him upon the return, he wanted to cooperate and seek justice.
“I am going to cooperate with the investigation,” he stated.
Up until the 2008 August War, the upper part of the Kodori gorge was the only area in breakaway Abkhazia under Tbilisi’s control. The Monadire (Hunter) paramilitary group was formed by local Georgian residents after the armed conflict broke out in Abkhazia in 1992 to protect the gorge from a potential Abkhaz offensive. The group was in charge of the gorge and the central government’s authority was nominal over Kodori. It, however, changed in summer 2006. On July 22, 2006, Kvitsiani, who was head of the Monadire paramilitary group, announced defiance to the Georgian central authorities and refused to disarm his paramilitary group; authorities responded by sending troops to Kodori, forcing Kvitsiani to flee to Russia.
During the August War in 2008, On August 12, Russo–Abkhazian forces gained control of the Upper Kodori Valley, previously controlled by Georgia. Kvitsiani accuses the previous government of this loss.
Family members of Emzar Kvitsiani state that the man is the first political prisoner of the new government.
Emzar Kvitsiani’s sister, Nona Kvitsiani, states that the family was demanding a formation of a parliamentary commission over the Kvitsiani’s case.
“We have a lot of questions with majority MP Eka Beselia, who removed Emazar twice from the list of political prisoners. It was planned in advance; Emzar hoped to prove his truth,” Nona Kvitsiani says. The family members, friends and relatives of Kvitsiani protested the verdict in front of the parliament building in Tbilisi on November 17. They are going to protest the fact again on Thursday and said that they hope for the Public Defender in the case.
When Kvitsiani returned to Georgia, head of Parliament’s Human Rights’ Committee, Eka Beselia, said that the committee studied Kvitsiani’s case and found multiple violations and even “political motivation” in the case. Beselia states that her committee sent the conclusion to the Prosecutor’s Office.
Members of the United National Movement are unanimous that Kvitsiani is guilty.