"Verdict is unjustified" - Georgian Ombudsman calls President Zurabishvili to pardon Gvaramia
The ombudsman calls on the president to pardon Gvaramia
According to the Public Defender of Georgia, Nino Lomjaria, the court hearing against Nika Gvaramia, Director General of the Main Channel, is unfounded in terms of both convictions and sentencing, and that is why she appealed to the President to pardon him.
The Office of the Public Defender of Georgia has examined the verdict of May 16, 2022, which was rendered by Judge Lasha Chkhikvadze.
What is written in the conclusion:
The so-called ‘sales of advertisement episode’
According to the verdict, Nika Gvaramia damaged Rustavi 2 by changing the terms of the contract for the sale of advertisements during the management of the company in 2015, thus the company did not receive more revenue.
“Unfortunately, the court does not consider at all the cases in which a corporate misconduct is a crime and directly concludes that the director not only violated his fiduciary duty but also committed an unlawful and culpable act”, the ombudsman wrote.
The so-called ‘car episode’
The case concerns the sale of Rustavi-2’s advertising airtime for less than the market price for 3 months, and it was the director’s personal interest to take possession of the car from his wife in exchange for an advertising company.
“The court did not use a fine (used in the first episode) or house arrest (for unjustified reasons) and imposed a prison sentence in the episode where the damage caused was about 100 times less than in the first episode. It should also be noted that in 2017-2021, imprisonment was not used in any of the cases under this article”, the Public Defender wrote.
The so-called ‘money laundering episode’
As Nino Lomjaria points out, this is the only section of the ruling where the court reasoning contains references to international legal norms. It is noteworthy that in this episode the accused was acquitted.
The ombudsman believes that the court has avoided answering all the important legal questions. Accordingly, the Public Defender said, the verdict against Nika Gvaramia, due to the extreme scarcity of legal reasoning, analysis and consistency, can be assessed as substantially unfounded.
“The court did not discuss at all in what cases the manager’s decision might become criminally relevant and why the case had this dimension, even though the ombudsman had submitted its opinion to the court containing detailed legal reasoning and argumentation”, Lomjaria writes.
On May 16, Nika Gvaramia, director-general of the country’s most popular opposition Mtavari TV channel, was arrested in court. He was sentenced to three years and six months in prison for using a company car for family needs.
After judge Chkhikvadze issued a sentence in Gvaramia’s case, it was reported in the media that he would no longer travel to the United States due to a verdict in a US-funded program. Chkhikvadze himself confirmed this.
Independent experts, NGO representatives and politicians consider Gvaramia’s arrest to be politically motivated.
The US embassy has also issued a statement about the case, noting that it shows the “selective justice and prosecutions against individuals who oppose the current government.”
The managers of Georgia’s four opposition TV stations are urging the West not to allow the oligarchic regime to ‘kill democracy in the country’.