Parliament passed on December 21 with its third and final reading law on amnesty giving pardon in various forms to much more inmates than the draft initially envisaged.
The amnesty has to be signed into law by President Saakashvili for it to go into force.
It envisages several forms of amnesty such as exemption from punishment; halving of prison sentence or reducing it either by one-third or by one-forth. The amnesty will apply to those who have committed crimes before October 2, 2012.
Unlike its initial version, the final document envisages applying reduction of prison sentence by one-fourth to almost all the prisoners, who will not fall under other forms of amnesty, including to those convicted for especially grave crimes – something that was opposed even by some of the Georgian Dream lawmakers, including MP Koba Davitashvili.
At the time when the draft law on amnesty was passed with its first hearing earlier this month, the ministry in charge of prison system estimated that exemption from punishment would apply to at least 3,000 inmates and twice as many would become eligible for their cases to be reviewed by a pre-term release commission because of reduction in their prison terms as a result of amnesty.
No exact figures about how many inmates would get reduction in prison term were immediacy available following the confirmation of the draft’s final version by the Parliament. According to the prison system ministry, it will release exact figures later.
The amnesty in a form of release from prison, among others, will also apply to those 190 inmates who have been recognized by the Parliament’s December 5 resolution as political prisoners. Among them are several persons who have been convicted during the previous authorities for espionage in favor of Russia. President Saakashvili said on December 20 that Russia “will of course be pleased” as Georgia’s new government “is releasing all the Russian spies.”
The Interior Ministry, as well as the prosecutor’s office, was offering lawmakers to limit the scope of the amnesty by not applying it to certain category of crimes, such as offences against law enforcement officers, but this proposal was not accepted by the lawmakers.
Also on December 21 lawmakers voted down a proposal from Georgian Dream MP Koba Davitashvili offering to automatically apply aggravating factor if a crime is committed by a person to whom an amnesty was granted.
Lawmakers from the United National Movement were not present during the parliamentary discussions on the amnesty on December 21; they have temporarily suspended parliamentary work on December 20.