Government members and some lawmakers from the Georgian Dream parliamentary majority group say that allegations about chief prosecutor Otar Partskhaladze having a criminal record aim at overshadowing investigations into high-profile cases.
Their remarks mainly echo a statement released by the prosecutor’s office in response to allegation, which was first leveled by Gigi Ugulava, the Tbilisi mayor suspended from office. In the statement, the prosecutor’s office does not explicitly deny the allegation; it says that these allegations aim to discredit the chief prosecutor in order to remove him from the office and derail ongoing investigations into high-profile cases, including against former government officials.
Below are comments of some government members and GD lawmakers on the issue:
Kakha Kaladze, deputy PM and minister of energy:
“It is obvious that the United National Movement purposefully tries to carry out black PR against the prosecutor’s office, especially against the chief prosecutor. It happens purposefully because the prosecutor’s office started investigations into those important and painful cases over which questions have always been asked by the public. How do you imagine a person, who served our country for many years, who held senior positions [in the law enforcement agencies] and who even was awarded by the [former] President [with Order of Honor] having [a criminal record]? I think everything is now answered.”
Giorgi Kvirikashvili, deputy PM and minister of economy:
“I do not think that any additional comment [other than the statement of the prosecutor’s office] is needed. I think that it is obvious political speculation.”
Sozar Subari, minister in charge of the penitentiary system:
“Very grave charges have been filed against Gigi Ugulava, other previous top officials. So, they try to overshadow it with some gossips, but they will fail to do it. These are political games how to avoid specific charges. They will be able to do it if there is no relevant evidence against them but if there are any, all of them will have to be accountable.”
MP Davit Saganelidze, leader of the GD parliamentary majority group:
“What matters now is whether or not Gigi Ugulava, who is suspected of misspending GEL 70 million, tell us how he misspent this sum… and not what accused Ugulava is now telling us about some case that occurred in Germany about 15 years ago. Obviously, this issue will be responded, but I know for sure that even if [allegation against Partskhaladze] is true, it happened long ago and nothing bars [him] from [holding chief prosecutor’s post].”
Zviad Dzidziguri, GD MP and leader of Conservative Party:
“The story that something happened to the chief prosecutor more than ten years ago and now Gigi Ugulava tries to save himself and not to answer the questions over misspending of millions will not work. As far as Partskhaladze’s issue is concerned, I think that the prosecutor’s office has already answered this issue; it is obvious that this campaign against Partskhaladze started after investigations against those people who have committed illegal acts was stepped up.”
Alexander Tchikaidze, interior minister:
“As far as I know, the law is not violated. Otar Partskhaladze is a patriot of his country, a good professional and we hope that he will successfully continue his activities in future.”
Asked if Partskhaladze has criminal record, Tchikaidze responded: “It should be verified. I have not looked into it.” But then he said: “He had no conviction.” Asked if he says that Partskhaladze had no conviction, then what he has to verify, Tchikaidze responded that even if true the conviction is already extinguished. A reference here was made to an interpretation of the Georgian laws by some legal experts, who say that although law bans a person having a conviction in the past to hold prosecutor’s position, the law also sets eight-year period after which the conviction is regarded to be extinguished.