Allegations about pressure on judges must be responded
The Media Advocacy Coalition would like to respond to the interview of a former Supreme Court judge, Besarion Alavidze, in which he spoke about pressure exerted on judges. According to Alavidze, the High Council of Justice demanded from judges that they agree their rulings on particular cases with the Council. He went on to say that the Council used to summon judges to their offices in order to discuss particular cases in a thuggish way and coerce them into delivering verdicts the Council favored.
Besarion Alavidze was appointed to the Supreme Court for the term of 10 years in 2011. The term of his office expired on 22 February 2021. While serving as the Supreme Court judge, in 2019, Alavidze spoke up about nepotism and deals struck in the system. He confirmed the existence of an influential group, the so-called clan in the court.
Statement made by Besarion Alavidze in his interview was also confirmed by the currently incarcerated former high official of the State Security service, Soso Gogashvili. In his address released via Facebook, Gogashvili commented on one particular court case, saying that the State Security Service, upon the request of one of the leaders of the clan, Mikheil Chinchaladze, exerted pressure on Alavidze to force him into delivering a desired ruling on the case of TV company Rustavi 2. Alavidze heard the case of Rustavi 2 and along with eight of his colleagues, ruled in favor of transfer of the private broadcaster to Kibar Khalvashi.
For many years, legitimate questions about risks of corruption in judiciary have been raised, which are further heightened by aforementioned statements made by the former Supreme Court judge, Besarion Alavidze, and the former Security Service official, Soso Gogashvili. Criticism by local and international actors as well as recent gravest allegations voiced by former judges indicate the urgent need for the reformation of the judiciary.
We call on the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia:
- To conduct a comprehensive and impartial investigation into allegations of pressure on judges and other unlawful actions and inform society about the results of the investigation in a timely manner. Also, to conduct a thorough inquiry into the allegations of pressure to influence the ruling on the case of Rustavi 2 TV company.
Furthermore, we call on the Parliament of Georgia:
To set up a temporary parliamentary commission for the inquiry into the situation in the Georgian judiciary. To use the analysis of shortcomings identified by the commission as a basis for a reform that will be aimed at freeing the court system from informal influences