gigi ugulava - 2013-02-23

Gigi Ugulava said in a statement he will fight on: “I won’t let the will of the people be trampled on behind closed doors.” (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava was Saturday night stripped of his authority by the city court.

Ugulava was informed about the court’s decision at 1 am Sunday. The decision was made without a hearing and came hours after the court had issued him bail conditions in a corruption case.

He is charged with abuse of power and embezzlement of Tbilisi City Hall money to use it for the National Movement’s 2012 election campaign. He may be jailed from seven to 11 years.

The mayor wrote in a statement that he assumed that this would happen. Ugulava believes that judge Dali Metreveli and head of Tbilisi City Hall Mamuka Akhvlediani were harassed by the government.

“It proves that there is political game against me,” he writes. “Unfortunately, in this case the court was in a difficult situation, being put in a political process and left the mayor of Tbilisi elected by 55 percent of Tbilisians without appeal and a chance to respond.”

A few hours earlier, Ugulava was allowed to leave the courtroom, but on condition that he pays a 50 000 lari (USD 30 000) bail. The Prosecutor’s Office wanted him placed in pre-trial detention.

Ugulava told Rustavi 2 after leaving the court building that the Prosecutor’s Office’s arguments were weak and the court made a logical decision to release him. The mayor believes that the court is being harassed. He said the main witnesses are former members of his own party, the National Movement, who have switched sides to Georgian Dream.

“I will continue my work. Many projects must be finished, whether my authority is suspended or not,” he said.

His lawyer Giorgi Gelkhauri explained to journalists that the Prosecutor’s Office in a separate mediation asked to suspend Ugulava’s status and that’s why another judge reviewed this issue.

Ugulava, who is the last of former president Mikheil Saakashvili’s allies to lose power in Georgia, says the fight is not finished.

“I won’t let the will of the people be trampled on behind closed doors,” he added.

Ugulava has 30 days to pay the bail money. The first hearing in his case will be held February 5 at Tbilisi City Court.

“I won’t let the will of the people be trampled on behind closed doors,” he added.