Untangling Mass Property Seizure Cases
06 December, 2012
Untangling Mass  Property  Seizure Cases
The mass property seizure cases practiced by the Rosy-government within nine years of its office-term must be untangled delicately now not to make more legal mistakes and injustice neither in legal procedures nor in compensation-related issues.
The nine-year reign of outrageous property rights violation seems brought to an end and time for restoration of afflicted proprietors’ rights came at last. The fact that the Rosy-government has been violating rights of businessmen, proprietors and land owners all alike since it came
into power in 2004 up to the last moment of its office-term, is an open secret. Piling cases of Georgian citizens vs. Georgian state infested the international court of Strasburg most of all other countries, legal experts say.
Long queues in front of Prosecutors’ Office attest the launch of new epoch of justice. However, to prevent the process to be blended into some sort of political revenge the EU requires of Georgian General Prosecutor to disclose statistics of filing lawsuits, radio Commersant reported recently based on its informal sources. Meantime, Gigi Ugulava, Mayor of Tbilisi and one of the leaders of former ruling National Movement, complains that any claim against any person is boosted in Georgia now that affects the business climate and economic development of the country most of all.
To disperse speculations, Archil Kbilashvili, General Prosecutor of Georgia, made a statement on December 4, 2012 that the already investigated financial-commercial cases will be made public tentatively in two weeks. He stressed that no hasty decision is acceptable [when it comes to the economy] that may lead to ungrounded convictions. Kbilashvili did not disclose statistics of incoming claims however.
Legal and economic analysts agree that to detangle the huge bundle of injustice exercised for many years is a very complicated affair and requires long and delicate dig-out to get the grip of each case.
“The issue is really a very complicated one. Although the property seizure has been implemented through similar schemes frequently the issue cannot be solved by grouping similar cases now, each case should be carefully perused to avoid more unfair decisions,” Kakha Kojoridze, an independent lawyer, said in the interview to Georgian Journal.
Some businesses prefer to unite efforts in order to make their struggle for getting the lost businesses and property back effectively. For example, a new project “Return” launched by end of November under aegis of non-governmental watch-dog “Georgian Business”. Mamia Sanadiradze, a former owner of Caucasus Online, one of the leading Georgian internet providers, who claims he allegedly was deprived of the business under crackdown of the government-connected business group of GMC, sponsors now the Return project.
Any business who finds itself offended may appeal to the Project for help. The project aims to integrate businessmen and legal experts to work out an effective strategy of the seized property return. They will prepare a proper paper-work and present recommendations to government. The project initiators believe they can help government a lot as far as similar persons have been acting in property seizure cases as a rule, therefore this kind of integrated work will facilitate to revelation of systemized defects in law. On the other hand, claims on each case will be raised at Prosecutors’ Office separately.
Amalgamation of offended businesses in projects like Return may be useful to lobby interests of victims to make clear that their case is a part of systematized problem and not a singular case, Kojoridze believes but elaborates that Prosecutors’ Office is not entitled to handle with the cases when property confiscation is based on court decisions and appear lawful from legal point of view. Re-investigation of such cases can be based on a parliamentary act stipulating that the said court decisions drawn within certain period should be revised as far as there is a strong evidence that they were drawn unfairly.
“This kind of act may have its defects too but can be effective in this situation to lay ground to revise similar cases that are abundant at the moment,” Kojoridze elaborates.
On the other hand, Prosecutors’ Office may start a new investigation based on the firm argument that unfair decision was drawn based on a fraudulent testimony.
The issue of reimbursing commercial losses the victim businesses faced as a consequence of lost property also keeps problems in store. Who will be paying off losses is a puzzle. As a legal assignee of ex-power new authority is responsible to pay off the losses as far as illegal property right infringement cases were carried out on behalf of the state. But since the mass property seizure soap opera was staged by ex-power, experts find apt to make the culprit officials to fork out money.
“It were particular state officials who misused with their authority to seize property illegally, so why is the state supposed to pay money of tax payers, I mean my and your money, to cover losses inflicted by some criminal officials?” Irakli Lekvinadze, an economic expert, wonders. “Besides, the state budget cannot afford to cover that much reimbursement sums.”
Kojoridze says this is a legal way-out. The state can pay compensations first, and then investigate who stood behind the crime and put the person responsible against the law that obliges any state official committing a crime deliberately or nonchalantly to pay the related costs completely.
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