NGOs Respond to Latest Developments Related to the Incident between the Chief Auditor and Ex-Chief Prosecutor
Organizations signatory to this statement would once again like to respond to recent developments related to and the investigation of the incident between the Georgian Chief Auditor Lasha Tordia and Ex-Chief Prosecutor Otar Partskhaladze. May 24 saw a suspicious leak of a video discrediting the Chief Auditor. The video depicts a December 24, 2016 incident at a Tbilisi café that allegedly involved Chief Auditor. It turned out that an investigation on this incident had been launched on the same day under Article 151 of the Criminal Code of Georgia.
According to a statement released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry had information about this possible offense as early as December 24, 2016; however, the authenticity of the video has not been established and the offender has not been identified to date. We believe that the appearance of this video suspiciously coincides with the recently launched investigation into the incident between Chief Auditor Lasha Tordia and Ex-Chief Prosecutor Otar Partskhaladze, and may be an attempt to cover the incident. This is not the first time a video leak has been used to discredit an individual. Unfortunately, similar suspicions have been raised on a number of occasions in the past, which may point to malpractice by the law enforcement system. It is unclear how the video, which was part of the investigation, became public. The suspicion is strengthened by Otar Partskhaladze's May 14 statement, in which he pointed to Lasha Tordia's ‘inappropriate’ behavior. This statement raises a suspicion that that Otar Partskhaladze knew about the existence of the above video prior to its leak. Such a statement may be assessed as an attempt to intimidate and influence the Chief Auditor.
It should be stated clearly that the incident between Chief Auditor Lasha Tordia and Ex-Chief Prosecutor Otar Partskhaladze has no connection with the leaked video; therefore, the two cases must be investigated independently. Recent events once again point to the problem of politicization of law enforcement agencies and raise legitimate doubts about their activities.
Signatory organizations also believe that, if the May 24 video is proven to be authentic, the Ministry of Internal Affairs must respond accordingly. Everyone is equal before the law and everyone must be equally held responsible for an offense. However, it should also be emphasized that specific evidence must never be used to discredit an individual.
We believe that an objective and timely investigation of a violent incident involving the head of a constitutional body (and possibly related to its activities) is essential. Furthermore, this investigation must be conducted with active involvement of the Parliament of Georgia. A separate, timely investigation must also be conducted on and appropriate qualification given to the incident of December 24, 2016.
Transparency International Georgia
Georgian Young Lawyers' Association
Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC)
International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED)
Open Society Georgia Foundation
Human Rights Center
Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI)
Article 42 of the Constitution
Civil Development Agency (CiDA)
Georgian Democratic Initiative