Vakhtang Khmaladze, head of parliament’s judiciary committee. (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–The government in Georgia does not plan to review its policy towards the mafia, but the head of the judiciary committee in parliament says the laws targeting criminal organizations are vague.

One of the stated priorities of former president Mikheil Saakashvili’s governments was fighting the criminal world, which it did during its nine year in power. But some criticized the heavy-handed methods that were used.

The mafia world began being formed during Soviet times. Members of the mafia enjoyed a particular respect in society, because they were acting by theire own laws which seemed to be more fair than Soviet laws; however their laws transformed into something different after Georgia became independent, and the mafia in practice governed the country during Eduard Shevardnadze era.

Saakashvili’s government began an effort to root out the mafia. The ex-president announced a ‘zero tolerance’ policy. The criminal code was amended. Being a member of the mafia and recognizing mafia mentality became crimes and tough sentences were used.

After the change of government, Bidzina Ivanishvili’s government began to discuss whether the laws targeting the mafia world needed to be revised because they are vague.

Vakhtang Khmaladze, head of the judiciary committee in parliament, said at a briefing that these regulations are not well defined.

“I don’t like this regulation of law and I was very critical to it when it was established,” he said. “A criminal action shouldn’t be subject to evaluation, which it is.”

The MP thinks this is problematic and suggests a way to improve the matter. He believes the law should define exactly what it means being a so-called thief-in law and adhering to the thief mentality.

“A person should be convicted for something directly related to a specific action. I will simply say that, let’s say, I like thieves in law and I like thief-relations, it is not correct if I am jailed for it,” he said on Thursday.

Opposition criticized him for this statement, accusing him of wanting to bring back the thief mentality in the country.

Members of the government haven’t said yet whether they plan to amend this passage in the Criminal Code.

Prison Minister Sozar Subari said the same day that the government does not plan to revise its attitude and approach towards the mafia world.

“He [Khmaladze] said that if something needs to be made more precise, it can be made more precise. The practice which the United National Movement was using wasn’t correct, but the approach won’t be revised,” Subari said. “This is not my view, but the government’s. If it is possible to improve the law, legislation will always be improved.”