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Ex-Mayor remains in custody as Constitutional Court delays its verdict

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, September 17
The Constitutional Court of Georgia has failed to announce a verdict concerning former Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava, who remains in custody after the expiration of a nine-month pre-trial detention period.

According to relevant bodies, his detention term continued as he faced additional charges.

Lawyers of Uguva had appealed his remaining in custody in the Constitutional Court as according to them the detention contradicted the law.

The Constitutional Court stated in response that the absence of Judge Merab Turava on the court session was the reason of the delay, as the nine judges should have made a solution over the case.

“Turava’s signature was necessary for making a legal decision,” the court said.

Turava said that he received materials over the case a day before the gathering date and failed to familiarize with the 50-page document.

“I and other judges received the materials only a day earlier on our E-mails. The time was not enough and besides I had a health problem.” Turava says and stresses that the sending materials only a day before was “quite insulting” to judges.

Ugulava, one of the senior figures in opposition UNM party, has been in detention since early July, 2014 in connection to separate, unrelated case involving money laundering charges.

The Chief Prosecutor’s re-qualified charges against Ugulava in March 2015 in the case stemming from 2007 events involving alleged illegal seizure of some assets owned at the time by tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili, who died in 2008.

The opposition United National Movement claims that Ugulava is a victim of political persecution, while the ruling coalition excludes its involvement in the case and states that the issue concerns law-enforcement bodies only.