Lawmakers of the ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia party are planning to tighten penalties for obstructing justice by government officials, according to MP Mamuka Mdinaradze, leader of the Georgian Dream’s parliamentary faction.
The announcement comes less than a month after the controversial ruling of the Tbilisi City Court, which found ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili guilty of abusing power in pardoning the former Interior Ministry officials, who were convicted in the high-profile murder case of Sandro Girgvliani.
Mdinaradze, who spoke at a press briefing on January 29, said the case “was a conspiracy against justice and against an individual,” and stressed that it was the the Georgian Dream’s “obligation” before the public to deliver justice on the matter, and to to establish “political and legal hurdles” against reoccurrence of similar cases.
“These changes could best be described as the Girgvliani amendments,” Mdinaradze noted, adding the legislative proposal would be drafted by the Georgian Dream’s parliamentary faction and would set “high standards of restriction for government officials, so that no one dares to obstruct justice [in the future].”
Parliamentary Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze spoke in favor of the initiative as well, saying the ruling party would endorse “any initiative” that would “rule out the possibility of the state and the government plotting a conspiracy against an individual.”
The parliamentary opposition slammed the ruling party-proposed legislative amendments, with MP Roman Gotsiridze of the United National Movement calling the initiative “a propagandistic trick,” and MP Irakli Abesadze of the European Georgia describing it as “yet another farce.”
President’s Parliamentary Secretary Ana Natsvlishvili criticized the initiative as well, urging the ruling party to prioritize “freeing” the judiciary from the prosecutors, security service officers and judges, who “have been ordering and covering up” violations of human rights for years. “Otherwise, the Girgvliani package will be a farce,” Natsvlishvili noted.
Sandro Girgvliani, 28, was found dead on January 28, 2006, in the outskirts of Tbilisi with multiple injuries inflicted as a result of physical abuse. Four officers from the Interior Ministry’s department for constitutional security were arrested on March 6, 2006, who were subsequently found guilty of inflicting bodily injuries that resulted into Girgvliani’s death and sentenced to imprisonment; but their prison terms were halved as a result of the presidential pardon and consequently a pre-term release mechanism was applied to them through which the four former officers were released in September, 2009.
The murder and the subsequent handling of the case by Saakashvili’s administration has attracted harsh criticism nationally and internationally, with the European Court of Human Rights saying in its judgment that the Court was “struck by how the different branches of State power… acted in concert in preventing justice from being done in this gruesome homicide case.”