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Tbilisi Appeals Court Upholds Nika Gvaramia’s Sentence

The Tbilisi Court of Appeals ruled on 2 November to uphold imprisoned Mtavari Arkhi TV Chief Nika Gvaramia’s sentence of 3 years and 6 months in prison.

In its decision, the Court upheld the re-qualified charges under Article 182 (2a, 2d,3 b), referring to the misappropriation or embezzlement with a preliminary agreement by a group, using official position and in large quantities to Article 220, abuse of power.

In doing so, it agreed with the previous instances ruling regarding Gvaramia’s guilt on two matters: the deal with Porsche Center Tbilisi in 2019 which, according to the Prosecutor’s, resulted in Gvaramia receiving a Porsche Macan S — worth EUR 76.7 thousand — in exchange for placing ads on the channel at a discounted price, and for reducing Rustavi 2 ad placement prices in 2015.

Significantly, however, regarding the 2015 incident, the Appeals Court changed the official sentence imposed on the TV chief from a GEL 50,000 (USD 18,180) fine to 3 years and 6 months imprisonment here as well.

As in the initial ruling, the Court cleared Gvarmia of other charges brought against him, Article 221 (3) — commercial bribery, Article 362 (2b) — forgery that resulted in substantial damages, and Article 194 (3c) — money laundering accompanied by a receipt of particularly large income.

Judge Merab Jorbenadze also announced the verdicts of two other persons accused in the same case — Zurab Iashvili, director of InterMedia Plus (the company involved in the 2015 incident), and Kakhaber Damenia, who was Rustavi 2’s financial director at that time.

The Appeals Court upheld the ruling which declared Iashvili innocent of the charges brought against him under Article 362 (2b) making, signing, or using a forged document, seal, stamp, or letter, and Article 221 (1) commercial bribery.

Regarding Damenia, as in the original instance, the Appeals Court re-qualified Article 182 (2a, 3d) — misappropriation or embezzlement to Article 220, abuse of power, and imposed a GEL 50,000 (USD 18,180) to be paid into the budget.

Gvaramia’s Lawyer Comments

Following the Appeal Courts’ ruling, one of Gvaramia’s lawyers, Dimitri Sadzaglishvili, stated that despite the fact that Gvaramia’s innocence was proven in the Appeals Court as well, and “it is absolutely clear to everyone that he is in prison on a forged verdict,” the panel of judges upheld the “illegal verdict.”

According to him, the decision “takes away not only Nika Gvaramia’s freedom but also the country’s and prevents it from continuing down its path of European integration.” Sadzaglishvili noted that the truth will be established and it will be clear “how the decision was made and who had what role in the process of enacting this illegal verdict.”

Regarding the 2015 incident and the updated sentence, Sadzaglishvili emphasized that the authorities were not content about the fact “that Nika Gvaramia was in prison for using the car [owned by the company] for his personal purposes.”

“That’s why they decided to not correct the injustice [and] release Nika Gvaramia, but rather to apply imprisonment to another episode,” he said and added that “this Court is not interested in justice, it merely does what it is told.”

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


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