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Terror Convicts Offered Plea Bargain
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 3 May.'12 / 14:30

Seven convicts into the series of explosions in Georgia in 2009-2010, whose case is currently heard by the Court of Appeals, have been offered by the prosecution a plea bargain deal involving guilty pleas that will result in a lower prison sentences.

A lawyer for a key figure into the case, Merab Kolbaia, who was sentenced to 30-years in prison in June, 2011 by the court of first instance, says that his client had not been yet offered to any concrete proposal by the prosecution to what extent his prison term might be truncated. The lawyer, Mate Kharchamadze, says that the only offer so far was made last month, before the start of hearings in the Court of Appeals, when his client was offered to eight-year prison term in case of plea bargain.

Kharchamadze says that how the case will be resolved may become known by May 8, when the Court of Appeals holds its next sitting. The hearing on May 3 was adjourned after the prosecution requested time for negotiating plea bargaining with the convicts.

The formal offer for plea bargain deals comes after Kolbaia asked the Court of Appeal during the previous hearing on April 24 to be questioned again, saying that his previous testimonies to the investigation and the court of first instance in which he was pleading guilty were made under duress.

His motion for questioning was rejected by the judge, who cited that examination of evidence during the hearing into the case by the court of first instance, the Tbilisi City Court, last year was carried out without violation of procedures and laws and there was no need in re-questioning of the convict.

Prison sentences of other convicts range from seven to 30 years and lawyers of some of them say that they will try to negotiate better terms for plea bargain than the ones to which their clients have already been offered by the prosecution.

The case involves series of explosions, among them the one, which occurred outside the perimeter of the U.S. embassy in Tbilisi on September 22, 2010 and another one - outside the Labor Party office in Tbilisi on November 28, 2010, which killed a woman.

In December, 2010 the Georgian police arrested six persons suspected of being behind those explosions and the Interior Ministry announced that an Abkhaz-based Russian military intelligence officer, Yevgeny Borisov, was a mastermind of these terrorist acts, including of an attempted explosion of a railway bridge in western Georgia.

In February, 2011 police arrested several others into the same case, including Merab Kolbaia, who was described as “one of the key figures responsible for terrorist acts organized by Russian intelligence.” In June, 2011 the Tbilisi City Court found fifteen persons guilty of terrorism and sentenced most of them, some in absentia (including Borisov), to lengthy prison terms. Some of them took their cases to the Court of Appeals.

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