TBILISI, DFWatch–President Mikheil Saakashvili has pardoned 248 prisoners, 170 of whom had their sentence stricken from their criminal record.
56 had their sentence reduced to half, while 5 received a lighter sentence.
Among those pardoned are former government officials, including people who have been subject to international police searches. There are also prisoners sentenced for particularly severe crimes and one person who was given a life sentence for murder. He will leave prison in a year and a half.
Those who had their conviction removed from their record have already left prison.
Saakashvili pardoned the husband of Tina Burjaliani, who was the deputy of former justice minister Zurab Adeishvili. Nikoloz Dzimtseishvili has been wanted and was sentenced in absentia for appropriation and embezzlement of state money, and abuse of powers. Dzimtseishvili was deputy defense minister under Bacho Akhalaia.
The president also pardoned Adeishvili’s brother. He was also wanted, charged with abuse of powers and sentenced in absentia.
Among those now pardoned is Maizer Liparteliani, a policeman convicted in connection with the murder of Buta Robakidze.
Liparteliani, who already left prison, was convicted for changing his testimony. He was sentenced to one year in jail, and had served two and half months when he was released.
Prison Minister Sozar Subari says Saakashvili has made a political decision that is against the will of the people and the courts.
“When a person hasn’t even spent a day in prison and this person is pardoned, this is a political decision and distrust towards the court, which he used to be proud of for many years,” he said, adding that this is direct intervention in the court. “Of course he has this right, but morally this action is completely unjustified.”
Subari says he thinks it is a political decision to pardon a person who didn’t obey the court’s decision and didn’t appear in the courtroom and is also wanted internationally.
Andro Barnovi, head of the President’s Administration, Wednesday evening explained Saakashvili’s decision, saying that the president pardoned people he was sure were victims of political prosecution.
Regarding Maizer Liparteliani, Barnovi said he was detained because he didn’t give the ‘desired testimony.’
Elene Tevdoradze, head of the Pardon Commission, on Thursday said that Andro Barnovi is saying lies because pardon commission never gave positive recommendations for Maizer Liparteliani, Davit Adeishvili or Dzimtseishvili.
On a press-conference held on Thursday Elene Tevdoradze said that these people weren’t on the list of people who appealed president with request of pardoning.
More than 70 prisoners were put on the list of pardoned prisoners that she didn’t know about them, but Tevdoradze underlined that president had this right to make decision to pardon prisoner without recommendation of her commission.
“It’s been ten years I am head of the commission. This is first case when prisoner has runaway and president pardoned him,” she said.
Saakashvili has finished his second term as president, and a new president was elected Sunday. At the end of his presidency, he has made a number of unusual moves, like granting citizenship to thousands of Georgians living in Turkey, pardoning prisoners and now he is in Brussels holding high level meetings with EU officials.