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Minister: Halving Jail Term for High Profile Murder Convicts ‘Big Mistake’
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 17 Mar.'09 / 10:50

Giorgi Baramidze, the state minister for Euro-Atlantic integration issues, said it was “a big political mistake” to halve prison sentence for four former Interior Ministry officials, convicted for Sandro Girgvliani murder case.

He said while speaking in at the Tbilisi-based Maestro TV’s program, simulcast on FM radio station, Ucnobi, on March 16 that he was “surprised why the one who was taking such a decision did not think thoroughly before taking the decision.”

Last week a lawmaker from the ruling party, Gigi Tsereteli, who is a vice-speaker of the parliament, said in his remarks to the Tbilisi-based Kavkasia TV, that he thought it was not a right decision.

Cutting of prison term for four former officers from the Interior Ministry was made possible as a result of a pardon issued by President Saakashvili in November, 2008. Although unconfirmed reports about this decision first emerged few months ago, it was officially confirmed last week by Dimitri Shashkin, the minister for probation and prison system – he was appointed on the post in early February.

The murder case of 28-year-old Girgvliani has turned into the key political issue in 2006 and it reemerges time after time in the political discourse, because of persisting allegations that the investigation covered up possible links of other Interior Ministry officials, as well as of wife of Interior Minister, Vano Merabishvili, to this murder case.  

Gia Alania, Avtandil Aptsiauri, Aleksandre Gachava and Mikheil Bibiluri were arrested on March 6. The Tbilisi City Court sentenced Alania and three other former officers to eight and seven-year prison terms, respectively, in July, 2006, for inflicting injuries that resulted in Girgvliani’s death. The Court of Appeals upheld the verdict in December, 2006. The Supreme Court, however, cut the prison terms after dropping charges involving damage to the belongings of the victim.

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