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Court Finds MP Melia and ex-Minister Adeishvili Guilty into Cartu Bank Case

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The Tbilisi City Court delivered a ruling on December 2 into the case of forcing Cartu Bank to bankruptcy and found MP Nika Melia of the United National Movement (UNM), who then served as the head of the National Bureau of Enforcement, and former Justice Minister Zurab Adeishvili guilty.

Nika Melia, Zurab Adeishvili and several other former officials were charged in connection with a concerted attempt to force Cartu Bank to bankruptcy in January 2013. Cartu Bank is founded by ex-Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, the chairman of ruling Georgian Dream party.

The consideration of the case lasted for almost seven years. Judge Khatuna Kharchilava cited the delay by the volume of case materials, hundreds of witnesses and Nika Melia’s refusal to appear to the trials.

Nika Melia was charged under article 24-205 (1) (assistance in concealing property) and article 332 (abuse of official powers) of the criminal code of Georgia.

The court acquitted Melia of charges related to concealment of property and found him guilty of charges on abusing official powers. The Tbilisi City Court imposed a GEL 25,000 fine on him. He was simultaneously deprived of the right to hold any official position for a term of two years and three months.

As for Zurab Adeishvili, who was charged with organizing concealment of property, abuse of official powers, as well as fabrication of financial documents, he has been sentenced to five years and three months in jail in absentia. Moreover, Adeishvili was deprived of the right to hold any official position for a term of two years and three months.

Nika Melia’s defense lawyer, Giorgi Kondakhishvili said that his client should have been acquitted because there was no evidence in the case proving Melia’s involvement.

“In our opinion, this case has a clear goal to suspend Melia of his MP mandate, because guilty verdict results in suspending an MP mandate,” he told reporters.

According to paragraph 5 of article 39 of the Constitution of Georgia, the powers of a Member of Parliament shall be terminated early if he/she has been convicted by a court judgment that has entered into legal force.

The Parliament has to make a decision on suspending an MP mandate within 15 days after the judgment enters into legal force.

Commenting on the issue, Nika Melia said that the today’s ruling will not stop him. “Bidzina Ivanishvili will have to face reality and act according to public demands,” he told reporters.

Nika Melia has also been charged for inciting and heading mass violence on the night of 20-21 June outside the Parliament building on Rustaveli Avenue, Tbilisi’s main thoroughfare.

On June 26, the Parliament of Georgia lifted immunity from Melia following the request from the Prosecutor’s Office. On June 27, Tbilisi City Court demanded Melia to post a GEL 30,000 bail, rejecting prosecution’s motion for pre-trial detention.

On July 2, the Court of Appeals upheld the ruling of a lower court imposing a bail on Melia and ruled that he will also have to wear an ankle bracelet, a satellite device that defendants under house arrest are required to wear.

Zurab Adeishvili, who left Georgia next day after the October 2012 parliamentary elections and who also faces multiple criminal charges in connection to separate case, is the highest ranking former official who has been charged into the Cartu Bank case.

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

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