Parliament overturned on June 14 a presidential veto on legislative amendments to the code of criminal procedure with 92 votes to 33.
The 92-33 vote was two more than the three-fifth majority of lawmakers required for overriding a presidential veto.
Although President noted in his objections that the amendments, developed by the Ministry of Justice, in overall were providing more guarantees for equal opportunities for parties in a trial, there were two issues related to defense lawyers’ rights which became reason for vetoing the entire bill.
The bill envisages a provision according to which defense lawyers will have the right to request for a court warrant to carry out number of investigative measures, including to conduct a search. This right, however, is given to defense lawyers, according to the bill, starting from September 1, 2014. The President was offering to enact this clause a year earlier, from September 1 2013.
Another issue that became reason for vetoing the bill was a provision, which starting from September 1, 2014 deprives defense lawyers the right to submit evidence “of special importance” when a trial is on its stage of discussing a criminal case on its merits. The President deemed removing this clause “inadmissible” and offered the Parliament to maintain defense lawyers’ right to submit evidence during the trial even if such evidence was not presented during a preliminary hearing.
Presidential objections echoed those of the Georgian Bar Association (GBA), which has been calling on the Parliament not to override the presidential veto.