Appointment of Levan Murusidze as the judge of the Court of Appeals for lifetime tenure stirred controversy among the members of the High Council of Justice, the body overseeing the judiciary.
Murusidze, who presided over the high-profile murder case of Sandro Girgvliani, when the case was heard at the Supreme Court, was elected by the High Council of Justice on December 27 together with five other judges.
Eleven members of the Council voted in favor, following nearly two-hour-long interview with the candidate.
Two non-judge members, Nazibrola Janezashvili and Anna Dolidze objected and voiced critical remarks during the hearing, questioning Murusidze’s independence, as well as his role in the Girgvliani murder case adjudication.
According to Nazibrola Janezashvili, one of the five Parliament-appointed members, this was “one of the worst decisions in the history of the HCoJ.”
“The Council and the judiciary have announced an uncompromising war; following their failure to obtain endorsement on the list of Supreme Court candidates, they decided to appoint Murusidze in an accelerated manner,” she said.
Anna Dolidze, the President-appointed member of the HCoJ, joined in criticizing Murusidze’s appointment, calling it “a disgraceful decision.”
“The process was farce; it did not matter what Murusidze would respond, because the decision to reward him and leave him in the judiciary for lifetime tenure in retaliation to the [Parliament’s] rejection of the Supreme Court nominations, was made [well before the voting],” Dolidze noted.
Giorgi Mikautadze, the Secretary of the High Council of Justice, dismissed the accusations, telling reporters that Murusidze “is a highly qualified judge.” “Not a single question has remained unanswered by Levan Murusidze,” he stressed.
Levan Murusidze commented on the matter as well, saying it was his personal request to open the hearing for media “to answer to many [politically-driven] speculations about me.”
The murder of a 28-year-old Sandro Girgvliani in 2006, after his reported altercation with high-ranking Security Ministry employees, and the subsequent handling of the case by Saakashvili’s administration has attracted harsh criticism nationally and internationally.
Levan Murusidze presided over the murder case in 2007, when this case was heard during the appellate stage in the Supreme Court. Lawyers of the Girgvliani family tried in vain at the time to achieve return of the case back to lower court for re-investigation. Murusidze claims there was no chance to rule otherwise as his hands were tied by faulty legislation.