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The News in Brief

Monday, March 21
Prosecutors Close Probe into Alleged Pardon Commission Influence Peddling With No Charges

The investigation into alleged influence peddling in the process of pardoning inmates has been closed without filing charges against anyone as no evidence of criminality was found, the Prosecutor’s Office said on March 18.

The investigation was launched in December after Aleko Elisashvili - who chaired the presidential pardon commission from November 2013 till April 2014 - claimed that two senior lawmakers from the Georgian Dream ruling coalition, Eka Beselia and Manana Kobakhidze, tried to exert undue influence on him while lobbying for the early release of several inmates convicted in the 2010 “Cocaine Case”. Elisashvili, who is now an independent member of Tbilisi City Council, also claimed that he was told by an official – who he refuses to name - that Beselia and Kobakhidze received USD 200,000 as an advance payment and were expected to get USD 1.5 million if they successfully secured the early release of the “Cocaine Case” convicts.

MP Beselia, who chairs the parliamentary committee for human rights, and MP Kobakhidze, who is the Vice-Speaker of the parliament, have denied the allegations. Kobakhidze, however, confirmed showing interest in the prisoners, which she said was natural and legitimate taking into view the fact that she acted as their defence lawyer during the trial five years ago.

“The corrupt deal between so-called ‘Cocaine Case’ convicts and politicians, named by Elisashvili, concerning a pardon issue was not confirmed as a result of the investigation; therefore, the Georgian Prosecutor’s Office has terminated the investigation into this case,” the Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement, which also provides details of some of its investigative measures undertaken during the probe.

Elisashvili, who in late December accused the Prosecutor’s Office of trying to stifle the investigation, said on March 18 that the probe aimed at “covering up” the crime and not at investigating it.

“Prosecutors were working on stifling the investigation and they think that they succeeded, but they are deluding themselves,” Elisashvili said on March 18 after the Prosecutor’s Office announced the close of the investigation. “They have done everything to cover up [wrongdoings by] Beselia and Kobakhidze.”

MP Beselia told journalists on March 18 that the investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office validated her and Kobakhidze’s claims that Elisashvili was “telling lies intentionally.”

“Now he has to be held accountable for false testimony,” she said.

Tbilisi State University initiates impeachment procedures

The academic council at Tbilisi State University (TSU) has started impeachment procedures against the rector after a meeting with members of the student’s union (Tvitmmartveloba).

Classes were resumed Friday at TSU after more than a week of conflict where the student’s union is one of the two opposing factions.

The impeachment of rector Vladimer (Lado) Papava has been the only demand put forth by the student’s union during the conflict.

The meeting between student’s union and the council was closed to the media. After it was over, members of the council stated that March 16, they voted to start a procedure to terminate the authority of Papava. One third of the council members supported the proposal – four members out of 13.

Council members explained that the decision to impeach Papava was made in a secret ballot and was passed by a majority of votes. There are currently 11 members left on the TSU’s academic council, as two professors from the Faculty of Social and Political Studies left.

Members of the student’s union will submit a document on Monday explaining to the council why they think that the rector has to be impeached.

The impeachment procedure has three stages. The first is to launch the procedure and the decision to do this was made on March 16. The next step is to hold an inquiry to study the activities of the rector. The final stage is to hold an impeachment ballot. The ballot is secret and the rector has to leave if a majority votes against him.

Vladimer (Lado) Papava told journalists after the council meeting, which he attended Friday, that the council is ready to start the inquiry and he is ready and aid in that effort.

“It is not true that there will be chaos after the rector leaves the university, because we have a plan,” President of student’s self-government told journalists after the meeting.

“When the rector announces that he is leaving, there will be named an acting rector and the university won’t be left without a head.”

Auditorium 116 left TSU in the evening of March 16. While they were leaving, the academic council meeting was being held at the same time and several student’s union members attended it for a while. When the meeting was over it had not yet been reported that the council decided to consider launching impeachment proceedings against rector Papava.
(DF watch)

Georgia’s armed forces to be provided with Georgian equipment

The Georgian Army will be provided with military equipment produced by the Delta R&D Company. A Georgian battalion departing for Afghanistan will be the first Georgian subdivision to be issued solely with equipment produced in Georgia.

According to the Defence Ministry, the products of the Delta Military Scientific-Technical Center absolutely correspond to the requirements of the Georgian army.

According to company representatives, the new production is of superior quality, and negotiations on its export are in progress.