President Saakashvili seized upon a violent armed robbery of the Mamedovs family in the village of Jandara in the Kvemo Kartli region last week to again question appropriateness of planned amnesty, which is set to proceed after the Parliament overturned presidential veto.
Saakashvili was in the village of Jandara on December 30, accompanied by the Kvemo Kartli regional governor Davit Kirkitadze, visiting the armed robbery victim family.
“Is it time for an amnesty now?” said Saakashvili standing next to the members of the Mamedovs family. “Which country in the world makes broad amnesty against such background?”
The President then asked the governor of Kvemo Kartli how many robberies had been reported in the region since to the Rose Revolution and the governor responded that there had been total of nine robberies in the region from 2003 till 2012. “But this is already thirteenth such case only in recent two months,” Kirkitadze told the President.
Saakashvili said that the police should be operating in an emergency mode amid anticipated amnesty.
Instead of boasting on TV, Saakashvili said, “police should be at every corner and there should be emergency situation in Georgia, several thousand of dangerous criminals are going out of [jails]; emergency situation should be declared in this respect.”
At the time of the President’s visit, the robbery case had already been declared solved by the police, which said that five suspects had been arrested.
In a separate statement on December 31, which was made in response to President and governor’s remarks, the Interior Ministry stressed that the case was solved few hours after the robbery and money and valuable belongings were recovered.
The ministry countered crime rate figures provided by the Kvemo Kartli governor and said that in a period between 2003 and 2012 total of 471 robbery cases had been recorded in the region, 251 of them solved.
The Interior Ministry said that in November-December, 2012 there were 10 cases of robbery in the Kvemo Kartli region, six of them solved.
According to the Interior Ministry there was an increase in crime rate during the period of government handover following the October 1 parliamentary elections. It, however, said that “significant decrease in crime rate is observed” in December not only in the Kvemo Kartli region, but throughout the country.
The planned amnesty will authorize release from jail at least 3,000 prisoners, as well as reduction of prison terms for thousands of others.
The President had two major objections about the amnesty bill. He was against of granting release from jail to those 190 inmates, who were recognized by the Parliament’s December 5 resolution as political prisoners. He was also proposing MPs not to apply reduction of prison term by one-fourth to those convicted for sex crimes against minors.
Georgia’s prison population started to decline from the beginning of this year from over 24,000 in January to 20,493 by the end of November.