CSOs: Grigoriadis’ Trial “Unreasonably and Groundlessly” Protracted

On April 1, a group of more than 20 civil society organizations reacted in a joint statement to the postponement of the trial of Lazare Grigoriadis, saying that the consideration of the criminal case against him has been “unreasonably and groundlessly” protracted. The CSOs added that “there is a growing suspicion” that he will not be able to enjoy fair justice “at the hands of the judicial clan closely linked to the political leadership”.

On March 28, the Tbilisi City Court again adjourned the trial of Lazare Grigoriadis, this time citing the defendant’s physical absence in the courtroom as he wanted to participate in the trial remotely. Grigoriadis, 23, who was arrested in connection with the March 7-9 protests for allegedly throwing Molotov cocktails at police and setting fire to a police car, remains in custody.

The CSOs said that Judge Zviad Sharadze justified the postponement by arguing that Grigoriadis had not given a reason for his physical absence from the courtroom. According to the CSOs, Grigoriadis had the right to attend the trial remotely and was not legally required to provide a reason for his physical absence. “Therefore, the judge grossly violated the requirements of the criminal procedure law when he asked Lazare Grigoriadis to do something he was not legally required to do.”

“By the way, even if it was mandatory to name the reason, Lazare Grigoriadis gave a reason – he said that due to distress it is difficult for him to be in a crowded hall. However, the judge completely ignored this reason,” the CSOs added.

According to the statement, if the judge fulfills his promise and considers the defendant’s request to remotely participate in the upcoming court session as a non-appearance and holds the session in the absence of Lazare Grigoriadis, it will further aggravate the violation of Grigoriadis’ procedural rights.

The civil society organizations argued that Grigoriadis’ rights had been violated from the very beginning and that his punishment appeared to be a “political assignment” to “sow fear” in society, including among the youth.

“The procedural violations described above, which are systematic in such politically motivated cases, convince us once again of the necessity of what the European Union has set as one of the main conditions on the way to membership: without the introduction of an extraordinary system of integrity checks in the judiciary, it will neither be healthy, nor will the list of politically motivated cases come to an end”, the CSOs concluded.

Lazare Grigoriadis was arrested on March 29, following March 7-9 mass protests in Tbilisi against the so-called Foreign Agents’ Law. He was arrested for allegedly throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at police. On 31 March, the court sentenced Lazare Grigoriadis to preventive detention.

His arrest was viewed as controversial and sparked peaceful protests, as it was viewed as a retribution of the system against youth and civic activists who took part in the March protests. His lawyers and defenders argued that Grigoriadis is innocent and was typecast for his appearance to fit the description of the “satanist” and “disoriented” youth that the ruling party leadership vilified after the protests.

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