TBILISI, DFWatch – Tbilisi City Court on Sunday fined seventeen opposition supporters USD 700 000 for illegal campaign donations.
In local currency, the exact size of the fines are 1 202 000 lari, collectively.
The State Audit Service, which is entitled to track money transfers and donations to political parties and to impose sanctions, a few days ago, determined seventeen persons as law offenders. Among them there is one person who is a supporter of the ruling National Movement party, one who supports the opposition Georgian Dream, and the others support various other opposition parties.
All of them were fined five times the amount of money that was considered illegally donated.
The court hearling lasted seven hours. There was one incident, when a journalists attending the trial asked the judge for a recess, because one of the accused was suffering from diabetes and had to take medicine, but the judge refused. The accused called the judge a murderer, which resulted in him being thrown out of the courtroom. The judge then called for a ten minute break as Davit Batsikadze had a fit and it became necessary to call the emergency service. After some time, he felt better, and was able to attend the rest of the hearing.
Defense lawyers several times asked to reschedule the trial, as they had to prepare documents which they say would prove that the donations were legal. But the court did not grant them their request.
Once issued, the fines must be paid within seven days. The seventeen who were found guilty may appeal the decision within 72 hours. None of them intend to pay the fine.
As for the National Movement supporter, he was absent and it is not known what he will decide to do.