The Supreme Court of Georgia today overrode the Court of Appeals ruling, effectively sentencing 10 years in prison in absentia for UNM-era Defense Minister Davit Kezerashvili over the case of embezzling over EUR 5 million, Kezerashvili’s defense lawyer Giorgi Gelkhauri confirmed to Civil.ge. As per the amnesty rules, Kezerashvili’s sentence will be halved, however.
The ruling by the three-judge panel of Shalva Tadumadze, Levan Tevzadze and Merab Gabinashvili, overturned the 2017 acquittal decision of the Court of Appeals, and found Kezerashvili guilty on Article 182 (2d, 3b) of the Criminal Code, involving embezzlement using the official position, and embezzlement in large quantities. Justice Tadumadze back in 2017 served as Prosecutor General.
Kezerashvili, who is 51% shareholder of Georgian Dream government-critical Formula TV, dismissed today the sentence as politically motivated, noting he will appeal the “shameful” ruling in the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights.
He accused Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili of orchestrating the court process. “That is exactly him who thinks this will blackmail me or the television I support.”
Kezerashvili was chief of the financial police from 2004 till late 2006 and then served as Defense Minister till December 2008 before going into business.
Several separate sets of criminal proceedings have been brought against him since the change of government in Georgia in late 2012; in two of them, heard in the Georgian court, Kezerashvili was acquitted in absentia. Court in London in 2016 and court in France in 2014 rejected his extradition demands.