The Conference of Judges of Georgia, a self-governing body of Georgian common courts, elected Levan Murusidze and Dimitri Gvritishvili of the Tbilisi Court of Appeals as two new judge members of the High Council of Justice (HCoJ) during its 31st Conference on 23 October.
The posts for two judge members in the 15-member HCoJ became vacant after Gocha Abuseridze and Giorgi Goginashvili left the Council. According to the media, Gvritishvili was nominated for the post by the HCoJ, while Murusidze nominated himself. Notably, they were the only two candidates.
Significantly, there are currently 5 vacant seats for non-judge members on the HCoJ, a fact that has been the subject of criticism by local civil society organizations, the opposition, and international partners.
The Parliament started the process of selecting candidates for filling the positions a short while ago, presenting a total of 32 people for consideration.
Statements from Murusidze and Gvritishvili
Murusidze, who was the HCoJ’s Chair between 2013-2017, told journalists after he was elected that he tried to maintain a “quiet” life for the past few years but that certain CSOs, politicians, and experts “did not let the matter rest.” “They continued to throw my name around and blame me for [all] the problems that existed in the Court [and] country,” he underscored.
According to Murusidze, since he was unable to answer the accusations while he was an ordinary judge, he decided to return to the Council “after much thought,” so that “if anyone has a complaint” he can answer them directly. “By getting rid of me and discrediting me, they thought that they would dissolve the judicial system and bring in the cadres who will then rule [themselves],” Murusidze declared.
“I will fight to the end for the Court to be independent,” he told reporters.
On his part, Gvritishvili, who sat on the Council between 2017-2021, told journalists that being elected again is “the greatest responsibility” for him and that he will protect the judiciary’s interests.
“I will use my experience and knowledge once again to bring the Court even closer to international standards,” he stressed.
Claims against Murusidze and Gvritishvili
For members of the civil society sector, Murusidze and Gvritishvili are considered to be members of the so-called clan, wielding influence over Georgia’s judiciary.
Murusidze is connected with a number of high-profile cases such as Aleksandre Girgvliani’s murder, and the case of Rustavi 2 TV Station. At the same time, the currently imprisoned former deputy head of the State Security Service of Georgia (SSG), Ioseb (Soso) Gogashvili, has stated that he worked with Murusidze in the past to “sort out” court disputes in favor of the Georgian Dream party.
Gvritishvili meanwhile, was one of the judges who spoke about attempts by specific political parties, “media outlets under their influence,” and CSO’s trying to discredit the judicial system. In June last year, following a closed meeting of judges, he stated that according to the opinion of several present judges, the recent actions by Georgia’s strategic partners contradicted the principles of relations between sovereign states.
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