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President’s Parliamentary Secretary Denies Involvement in Recent Presidential Pardon

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On September 23, President Salome Zurabishvili’s parliamentary secretary Dimitri Gabunia made his first televised explanation about the recent presidential pardon of convicts. Gabunia has denied any role in the pardon which has caused outcry earlier this month. He stated that he only serves as a parliamentary secretary and has nothing to do with the decisions made by the presidential administration.

On August 28, Salome Zurabishvili pardoned 34 inmates, including Ramaz Devadze, Aslan Bezhanidze and Zurab Nadiradze, charged for grave crimes. The Georgian Prosecutor’s Office opened an investigation into alleged abuse of power into recent presidential pardon of convicts on September 20.

Earlier on September 18, Salome Zurabishvili announced that she will stop pardoning altogether, until clearer procedures are established. She also flatly denied “speculations” that someone else from her administration, including Dimitri Gabunia, previously a practicing defense attorney, was acting as a go-between for the inmate’s families and attorneys and influenced the pardons.

Expressing his willingness to cooperate with investigation, Gabunia said today that he is looking forward to the prosecution to identify “exactly who has made the list, who advised the President [which convicts to pardon], who gave her the list, and, consequently, why did the President sign [it].”

Condemning the pardoning of inmates sentenced for murder, Gabunia said it is “absolutely unacceptable” to point fingers at him, as he has not taken any part in the process. He noted however, that the society, naturally, expects him “to make logical explanations on recent defamation and mud-throwing.”

According to Gabunia “this is a matter of life and death” for him and he does not exclude appealing to the prosecutor’s office to raise the responsibility of those who “have planned and voiced” the slander campaign against him and harmed his professional reputation.

Although he did not name anyone in particular, Gabunia pointed at the pardon affairs department in the president’s administration, which runs under the deputy head of administration, and which, according to him, “was entirely busy making this list during the months.”

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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