RFE/RL Investigation Says Cop Guilty of Murder Released with Reduced Sentence

Findings of a journalistic investigation by the RFE/RL’s Georgian-language service say a policeman found guilty of murder walked free from prison in July 2021 after the Tbilisi Appellate Court re-qualified his offense and reduced his sentence from eight years to 15 months.

The incident took place on April 19, 2020, during curfew when drunken policeman, Soso Gabriadze went out on the balcony of his apartment and fired several shots from his firearm, with one of the stray bullets hitting and killing a middle-aged woman at her own home in the opposite residential house.

The Prosecutor’s Office said on April 20 Gabriadze had been arrested on charges of negligent manslaughter (Article 116 of the Criminal Code), envisaging a four-year prison term. A day later, the prosecution pressed new charges against the cop, under Article 108 of the CC, involving intentional killing and punishable by imprisonment from seven to fifteen years.

The victim’s daughter in January 2021 reported that Tbilisi City Court had found Gabriadze guilty of murdered and sentenced him to eight years in prison.

The investigation, published on December 27, details the possible influence of the prosecution, courts and an influential Orthodox Church clergyman in the subsequent shortening of the cop’s sentence.

The Appellate Court’s decision

As per the investigation, the second instance court on April 27, 2021, overruled the initial verdict and instead found Gabriadze guilty of negligent manslaughter following the convict’s appeal.

The Appellate sentenced Gabriadze to fifteen months in prison and the same amount of time on probation, according to RFE/RL. The report says the Appeal Court ruling has not been made public to examine the reasoning for the justices’ decision.

Citing information received from the Prosecutor’s Office, the investigative report adds that the prosecution took the case to the Supreme Court, which dismissed the appeal.

Lawyers’ take on the Appeal Court ruling

RFE/RL cites unnamed law specialists as noting that the crime in the first place did not meet the criteria to be qualified as intentional killing but the prosecution chose to press tougher charges following public outcry over the incident.

However, the report says that lawyers highlighted another circumstance as an issue – that the Appellate Court chose to sentence the convict only to fifteen months of prison and then probation instead of the maximum possible sentence of four years.

Clergyman argues crime not intentional despite City Court ruling saying it was

The report says that before the Appellate Court overruled the first instance ruling finding Gabriadze guilty of intentional murder, Archpriest Shalva Kekelia of the Transfiguration Temple in Tbilisi’s affluent Vake neighborhood had convinced the victim’s daughter Tika Makhaldiani not to appeal the initial ruling to demand a tougher prison sentence for the convict.

According to the investigation, the prosecution had asked Makhaldiani if she wanted to lodge an appeal, but Archpriest Kekelia advised her not to demand a fifteen-year sentence arguing the man had not intentionally killed her mother.

Citing Makhaldiani, RFE/RL reports that the Archpriest had asked her to look at the issue in the context of Christian teachings. “This played a big role and we did not protest [the initial ruling], our involvement in the case ended like this,” the victim’s daughter is quoted as saying.

The Archpriest on his part told RFE/RL that both the victim’s daughter and the convict’s wife visited his temple following the tragedy.

“I did not directly interfere, but I often talked to Tika, I used to tell her that this was not an intentional crime when a person deliberately commits something horrible, something like this could happen to anyone,” the report cites the Archpriest. “Tika managed to forgive and entrust everything to God.”

Read More:

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


Back to top button