Law
The Saga of the Mayor: Ugulava in Jail
10 July, 2014
The Saga of the Mayor: Ugulava in Jail
The former mayor of Tbilisi was charged with money laundering in particularly large amounts and falsifying legal documentation committed together with Giorgi Ghoniashvili and other parties. He is also charged with participation in the Marneuli incident on 5 June 2014, namely organizing group activities and exerting pressure aimed at the chairman of Marneuli voting district’s election administration with the purpose of disrupting the administration’s functionality.

Ugulava was apprehended at Tbilisi International Airport on July 3rd when trying to fly to
Kishinev, Moldova.
Commotion followed outside the city courthouse after the preliminary imprisonment sentence for Gigi Ugulava was announced. Upon declaration of the sentence, the four prosecutors attending the case had to be escorted from the court by a reinforced team of bodyguards.
The prosecutors were verbally attacked by Ugulava’s supporters. Patrol police had to be mobilized and had to intervene. As a result of the clash that took place at Tbilisi City Court, eight people were detained.
The incident resulted in the apprehension of Former Tbilisi Mayor and the former Ambassador to Germany and Poland Kote Gabashvili, who got subsequently seated in a patrol car and taken away by the police. Aleksi Bedoidze, cameraman of “Free Zone”, was also apprehended, along with two more
people, National Movement member Levan Bezhashvili being one of them. He was later released. “They found out after a three-hour-long questioning that I was an MP and they did not have a right to arrest me and they released me,” he said.
The City Court fined Kote Gabashvili and Davit Gogokhia 100 Lari. They were given a fine according to the 166th article of hooliganism, while the charge of 173rd article of preventing police from performing their duty was ceased.
Irakli Gharibashvili, the Prime Minister of Georgia, called the court’s decision on Gigi Ugulava’s imprisonment “a celebration of justice.”
But the EU’s response was different: “We note that Mr. Ugulava, previously suspended as Mayor of Tbilisi, is the opposition’s chief campaign organizer during the ongoing municipal elections in Georgia. We recall the Prime Minister Gharibashvili’s announcement on 14 April about a moratorium on the arrest and prosecution of opposition figures during this election period. We call once more upon the Georgian authorities to ensure that the judicial process is fully independent, transparent, and free of political influence, in line with the commitments undertaken by Georgia when it signed the Association Agreement with the European Union last week on 27 June 2014,” the statement of the EU High Representative of Foreign and Security Policy press-speaker of Catherine Ashton reads.
The Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt responded to the former Tbilisi mayor’s imprisonment via Twitter: “The arrest of Mr Gigi Ugulava in Tbilisi seems to run contrary to previous commitment to the rule of law.”
A Georgia’s former president Mikheil Saakashvili said in 2012 there was a few dozen million “money-laundering cases” against Bidzina Ivanishvili and Irakli Gharibashvili in the prosecutor’s office.
As the former president said in a Rustavi-2 TV program, there was a credit cards case against Gharibashvili, namely, money was transferred through credit cards with violation of the law.
“They should have been arrested, especially Gharibashvili because he was directly involved in this case. There were incontrovertible documentary evidences. The then justice minister and I decided not to touch any of them and not to start consideration of this case in public,” he said.
He said that then Bidzina Ivanishvili was fined for 80 million but no one was sent to prison: “It was our decision not to fight with our political opponents with these methods, though political opponents have had an incredible amount of money.”
At the moment video monitoring is being carried out in the Gigi Ugulava’s cell to ensure his safety. He agreed to the video control himself. Ugulava was on hunger strike with the demand of moving him from Gldani №8 prison to the so called Matrosov detention facility. His request was satisfied.
Gigi Ugulava’s lawyers have already appealed against the City Court’s decision.
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