- Kbilashvili plans to reshuffle prosecutor’s office;
- Orders prosecutors to suspend ongoing trials for two weeks;
- Prosecutor’s office plans to review “illegal verdicts”;
Archil Kbilashvili, a long-time defense lawyer and a member of newly elected Parliament from Georgian Dream coalition, has been appointed as new chief prosecutor replacing President Saakashvili ally Murtaz Zodelava.
New Justice Minister, Tea Tsulukiani, asked the President to replace the chief prosecutor last week.
Speaking at a news conference on October 30 new chief prosecutor Archil Kbilashvili said that for next one week he would spend solely on “large-scale” staff reshuffle within the prosecutor’s office.
“As part of this strategy top level leadership will be replaced, including chief prosecutors of Tbilisi and in provinces. On the district level, issue of each prosecutor will be reviewed separately,” Kbilashvili said. “I understand that the Georgian society’s expectations towards the new chief prosecutor are high, but I want everyone to understand that I have to take a time-out in order to renew and reshuffle this agency so this one-week period will be maximally used for staff reshuffle.”
He also invited those willing to work for the prosecutor’s office to apply on October 30 and October 31.
Kbilashvili has also ordered prosecutors to suspend their ongoing court cases for next two weeks.
“I instruct every prosecutor to suspend, re-schedule trials into those cases which are currently heard in substance in the courts for a two-week period, so that to prevent court rulings into these cases in this period,” he said.
“The goal of this move is following: we have stated for multiple times that we are going to review illegal verdicts – that means that if a person was convicted illegally that person will be able to apply and request the review of the verdict. So no verdict should be delivered in ongoing trials, where the prosecution possibly still acts in a same way which is condemned by us.”
“So within next one week the prosecutor’s office will be reshuffled and within following week reshuffled prosecutor’s office with new prosecutors will review ongoing cases [which are currently heard in the courts] and decide whether to pursue a case or to drop charges,” Kbilashvili said.
Kbilashvili is a majoritarian MP elected in Bagdati single-mandate constituency; his MP credentials will be renounced.
Kbilashvili, who represented Georgian Dream leader Bidzina Ivanishvili in number of legal proceedings including over the billionaire’s citizenship case before the elections, said that he would also quit Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia party.
In his recent interviews with various media outlets Kbilashvili said that it would have been the best option to replace all the prosecutors altogether, but that would be unrealistic. He said that he would set up a separate unit within the prosecutor’s office, staffed by personnel who had never before worked as prosecutors, to look into alleged wrongdoings by prosecutors. He said that the unit would probe into specific prosecutors’ actions based on complaints filed from citizens. Kbilashvili also said that concluding investigation into the circumstances of death of PM Zurab Zhvania would be one of his priorities.
PM Bidzina Ivanishvili’s government plans to maintain the prosecutor’s office within the Justice Ministry, but intends to make the chief prosecutor independent from Justice Minister and increase Parliament’s role in respect of the prosecutor’s office.
Currently the President appoints and dismisses chief prosecutor upon the request from the Justice Minister. According to new government’s program, chief prosecutor should be appointed by the President with an approval from the Parliament. According to the program, dismissal of chief prosecutor will only be possible either through impeachment procedures or through President’s decision, which will require approval of the Parliament.