Charges should not have been dropped against Bedukadze - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო

Charges should not have been dropped against Bedukadze

21 June, 2013

On 14 June 2013 the Tbilisi City court released Vladimer Bedukadze from criminal liability. This was based on the plea bargain agreement, "On Exclusive Cooperation," executed between the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia, Archil Kbilashvili, and Vladimer Bedukadze.

Vladimer Bedukadze, who had released video materials of torture and inhuman treatment in prisons in September of last year, was charged with torture and inhuman treatment.

Pursuant to Article 218 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia, the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia is entitled, in exclusive cases, to make an application to the court for the full release of a defendant from liability or sentence. When entering into the agreement on exclusive cooperation, the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia must take into account the public interest and gravity of the crime, along with the degree of culpability of actions committed by the defendant. These requirements may have not been duly assessed in Bedukadze’s case.

Vladimer Bedukadze was charged with an action recognized as one of the gravest crimes under Georgian legislation and international legal acts. Article 2 of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, clearly prohibits justification of torture in any form. Pursuant to Paragraph 3 of Article 2 of the Convention - "An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture". Furthermore, according to Paragraph 2 of Article 4 of the UN Convention, each state party shall make these offences punishable by appropriate penalties.

In absence of a final court verdict, Vladimer Bedukadze cannot be formally considered as an offender. He was accused of an extremely grave crime and neither the Chief Prosecutor, nor Bedukadze, have denied his involvement in this crime. Moreover, according to the disseminated information, Bedukadze has admitted his involvement in these crimes. With the refusal of the Prosecutor's Office of Georgia to hold liable a person charged for a specific act of torture, the state failed to fulfill its obligations under the Convention. In particular, Paragraph 2 of Article 4 of the UN Convention was breached, which obliges the state to punish individuals participating in acts of torture.

It was expedient to apply the benefits prescribed by legislation towards Vladimer Bedukadze, for his cooperation with the investigation and disclosure of extremely grave violations within Georgian prisons; but, for such grave crimes as torture and inhuman treatment, granting full immunity to persons is impermissible. Such approach grossly violates the rights and lawful interests of the victims.

We therefore believe that the introduction of such practice, as Georgia continues to develop as a democratic state, must not be tolerated. Furthermore, when the restoration of justice is stated as one of the key priorities of the state authorities, it remains unclear why the state would exonerate from an extremely grave crime, thus ignoring the interests of victims who suffered from such offences.