TBILISI, DFWatch–Government officials tried to pressure the president’s pardon commission into releasing certain prisoners, former commission head Aleko Elisashvili claims.
The current head of the pardon commission, Zviad Koridze, says he can confirm Elisashvili’s claim and that the commission has also come under pressure from government officials during his tenure.
The Prosecutor General’s Office has launched an investigation into the case and questioned Elisashvili and Koridze.
The case began with an appearance by Elisashvili on the television channel Rustavi 2 on December 7. He said government officials had tried to pressure him into considering the case of a certain prisoner. This was not an isolated case. Politicians ‘often’ wanted to have the cases of certain prisoners considered without any particular reason or criteria.
Elisashvili, who appeared on the talk show ‘Archevani’, said that those who pressured the commission are persons of great power.
Elisashvili wrote on Facebook that he told former Chief Prosecutor Giorgi Badashvili about the irregularities a year ago, but wasn’t able to provide evidence.
Deputy Chief Prosecutor Giorgi Gogadze responded Wednesday by saying that Eliashvili is lying about having told the Prosecutor General’s Office about this a year ago. Gogadze said that there indeed was a meeting, but it was dedicated to a personal issue Elisashvili had.
In his Facebook post, published on December 7, Elisashvili explained that the politicians felt excited about recent a speech by the Patriarch of Georgia who mentioned that it would be nice if he had power to pardon prisoners.
“However their plans failed as soon as the Patriarchate issued an explanation,” he wrote.
Koridze told Rustavi 2 that the commission members received messages that told them to decide positively the cases of particular prisoners.
“I think such an interest from the executive government is risky and suspicious,” he said.
After being questioned, Elisashvili said he provided names to the investigator and said he would go public with the names if the investigation doesn’t lead anywhere. He said he believes it is necessary to question the president, the defense minister, the speaker of parliament and other officials.
Georgia has two different commission with authority to pardon prisoners; one files under the president and the other under the prison ministry.