President Giorgi Margvelashvili has turned down an appeal from a group of citizens asking him to pardon ex-mayor of Tbilisi Gigi Ugulava.
One of the leaders of the opposition UNM party, Gigi Ugulava, was sentenced in September to 4 years and 6 months in prison after being found guilty of misspending of public funds while serving as the mayor of the capital city – charges, which he has denied as politically motivated.
“Despite of having different political views, we are united in belief that keeping Gigi Ugulava in prison is unjust and damaging for the country,” reads the appeal sent to the President on December 28 and signed by up to sixty people, among them prominent Georgian musicians, writers, film and theater directors, artists, intellectuals, journalists and civil society activists.
“Dear signatories, I have received your appeal on Gigi Ugulava’s pardon,” President Margvelashvili responded in a written statement on the same day. “A citizen actively involved in public life is valuable for me. It is especially valuable for me your position – of those people, who represent distinguished members of our society. Your emotions towards a person, who is imprisoned, are understandable. We have often had such emotions because of our forgiving nature.”
“At the same time, pardon mechanism is not the one that can replace either administration of justice or investigation, and it does not serve to political expediency. Pardon is a constitutional duty, which imposes high moral and state responsibility upon me,” he said.
“While applying this by nature human act, I do not take such decision which would give privileged treatment to a certain convict. I cannot take a decision, which may cause excessive sense of leniency towards such crimes. Therefore I cannot share demand voiced in your appeal,” reads the President’s statement.