An outright acquittal rate of criminal cases heard by the Tbilisi City Court in 2010 was 0.04%, according to the figures released by the court on December 21.
Tbilisi City Court is the court of first instance administratively covering the capital city.
In out of 7,296 criminal trials in the Tbilisi City Court this year, three persons have been acquitted in three separate cases and 18 persons were partially acquitted in nine separate criminal cases.
Acquittal rate in criminal cases heard by the Tbilisi City Court in 2009 was 0.05% with five persons acquitted in four separate cases; partial acquittal was delivered for 30 persons in 26 separate cases in 2009.
In 2008 sixteen persons were acquitted and 48 – partially acquitted in total of about 7,000 criminal cases heard by the Tbilisi City Court.
In 48.9% of cases convicts were sentenced to jail terms in 2010 (42% in 2008 and 45% in 2009).
84.3% of cases in 2010 were settled through plea bargaining system, which can be applied to all categories of crime whether the least severe, severe or the most severe; the figure stood at 57% last year and at 50% in 2008 in the Tbilisi City Court.
In a report on plea bargaining system in Georgia released this month by Transparency International-Georgia, the watchdog says, that lack of public confidence in the judicially system is one of the reasons behind use of plea bargaining on broad scale.
On the positive sides of the plea bargaining system, the report highlights its effectiveness if judging based on speed and efficiency criteria, noting that criminal proceedings are much faster and require fewer resources when plea bargaining is applied. The system appeared productive in the battle against corruption as well and in relieving already overcrowded prisons, according to the report.
“However, if we talk about the fairness of the plea bargaining system, the situation is much more complicated,” the report says. “Under the present circumstances, the prosecutor is more powerful than the judge and the defendant must choose between plea bargaining or trial where he risks the full severity of the law, without much chance of being found innocent… Lack of transparency regarding the calculation of the required fine and the amount of imposed and collected fines leads to widespread suspicion towards prosecutors and plea bargaining in general.”
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