On top of the money laundering charges, prosecutors have also charged arrested ex-mayor of Tbilisi and one of UNM party leaders Gigi Ugulava in connection to the June 5 incident at the Marneuli District Election Commission.
Prosecution has filed a motion with the Tbilisi City Court requesting for ordering pre-trial detention of Ugulava; Prosecution has filed a motion with the Tbilisi City Court requesting for ordering pre-trial detention of Ugulava; court hearing is expected for Friday evening.
On June 5 Ugulava, who is UNM’s campaign chief for the local elections, and some other senior figures from the opposition party were inside Marneuli DEC chairman’s office trying to dissuade the latter from canceling UNM gamgebeli candidate’s registration. Ugulava was shouting at DEC chairman Koba Asanidze and telling him that he would “regret” his decision. Ugulava later apologized. DEC chairman annulled UNM’s gamgebeli candidate’s registration, but the decision was then overruled by the court.
Prosecution claims that Ugulava’s actions constituted crimes envisaged by articles 150 and 226 of the criminal code, which deal with “coercion” and “organizing actions by a group, which violate public order”.
Gigi Ugulava’s defense lawyer, Gizo Uglava, told journalists on July 4 that his client considers additional criminal charges, like other previous allegations against him, as politically motivated.
Ugulava was arrested at the Tbilisi airport before taking flight to Kiev on the morning of July 3. On the noon of the same day the Finance Ministry’s investigations service said that Ugulava was arrested in connection to money loudening case, involving allegation that he was receiving “black money” from an offshore registered company for funding of UNM’s election campaign.
On June 30 separate criminal charges, unrelated to newly added ones, were filed against Ugulava; those charges involve alleged misspending of public funds through abuse of office while serving as Tbilisi mayor.
Just over 12 hours before Ugulava was arrested, the Tbilisi City Court turned down on July 2 prosecution’s motion requesting for seizure of Ugulava’s passport to prevent him from traveling aboard. The court said that the prosecution failed to justify its motion and that there was no need to impose any measure against Ugulava as it saw no threat that he would flee or obstruct course of justice.
Ugulava has traveled for number of times abroad and returned back to Georgia since he was first charged in February 2013. He is facing multiple criminal charges and is already standing trial into several separate cases.
In February, 2013 Ugulava, who at the time was Tbilisi mayor, was charged with misspending and embezzlement of large amount of public funds and money laundering into two separate cases; trial into those charges is currently underway.
Additional charges were filed against Ugulava in December, 2013; charges involved alleged misspending of GEL 48.18 million (about USD 28.2 million) of public money in 2011-2012. In connection to these charges court at the time turned down prosecution’s motion for Ugulava’s pre-trial detention, but ruled in favor of a request to suspend Ugulava from Tbilisi mayor’s office. In May, 2014 the Constitutional Court ruled that Ugulava’s suspension from office was unconstitutional.