A three-judge panel of Court of Appeals launched on July 9 hearings into the case known as Mukhrovani mutiny, which took place in a tank battalion outside Tbilisi on May 5, 2009.
On January 11, after 18-week long hearings, a judge of lower court, Tbilisi City Court, delivered verdict in which he shared the prosecution’s version saying that developments in Mukhrovani-based tank battalion on May 5, 2009 were mutiny with an eventual goal to overthrow the government and not just disobedience by several military commanders, as claimed by some of the defendants.
Total of 41 men faced charges of various types with half of them striking plea bargain with the prosecution. Only one, Koba Kobaladze, a commander of the Georgian national guard till 2004, was cleared of coup charges by the judge. Three other key figures into the case – Levan Amiridze, who was commander of Tbilisi-based elite rangers battalion; Shota Gorgiashvili, former commander of Mukhrovani-based tank battalion and retired army colonel Koba Otanadze - were found guilty of mutiny with the goal to overthrow the government and sentenced to a lengthy prison terms.
All of these three figures, plus 14 others - both civilians and former militaries, who were found guilty of charges varying from not reporting the crime to providing assistance to disobedience – are now back in court appealing their convictions.
Like during the hearings in lower court, defense lawyers of Amiridze, Gorgiashvili and Otanadze will likely continue their efforts to convince judges that there was no plot to overthrow the government and will argue that evidence put forth by the prosecution and shared by the judge in lower court were not sufficient to back the coup charges.
Prosecution has also appealed the part of the City Court’s ruling which concerns seven civilian persons into the case. Seven civilians were charged by the prosecution with participation in the mutiny to overthrow the government; but the judge of City Council ruled that the crimes committed by them should be instead qualified as providing assistance to disobedience. They were sentenced to prison terms varying from ten to 15 years. They were also found guilty of charges related with illegal possession of firearm. In its appeal the prosecution wants convictions of those seven civilians to be qualified as participation in the mutiny to overthrow the government and consequently to slightly increase their prison terms.
The July 9 hearing was a preliminary one, which mainly focused on technical issues, including on the schedule of further hearings.