TBILISI, DFWatch – According to a new survey, the confiscation of a Georgian TV company’s property was illegal.
Transparency International Georgia (TIG) is behind the new study, called Analysis of the ‘Pre-Election Process’. The report is based on a survey of violations covering the period from 1 October, 2011 till 1 August, 2012.
TI revealed 12 cases of intimidation of opposition activists, 5 cases of physical reprisals against opposition supporters, 5 cases of pressure on business and several cases of voter bribing.
TI identified 45 cases of firing possibly for political views. One of the cases concerned a firing of the key figure in Georgia’s education reforms, Maia Miminoshvili, who suggested that it was a result of her son’s political activism. A day before her firing her son participated in the a large opposition demonstration.
According to the analysis, disproportional sanctions were imposed on representatives of opposition parties and the ruling United National Movement party.
The authors of the survey think that the case of seizure of the property of the TV company Maestro and Global TV was inconsistent with the law.
The court ruled, that “there are reasonable grounds to suppose that the technical means of broadcasting of Global Contact Consulting LTD constitute a property, which targets crime, such as bribing voters, due to which the above technical means should be seized”.
The court grounded its decision about Global TV and Maestro in Article 151, paragraph 3 of the Criminal Procedure Code. This paragraph says, that the court has the right to seize property if it is considered involved in corruption.
The authors of the survey claim that even if they admit to bribing voters, it is not a crime and can’t be used as grounds for seizure of property.
“The Tbilisi City Court verdict itself writes that the property of the TV company Maestro and Global Contact Consulting has not been used for the commission of an offense yet, but that there is a reasonable suspicion that they are intended for the commission of a crime,” the report notes.
After a series of protests, organized by various Tbilisi-based NGOs and representatives of the media, the seizure on Maestro’s satellite dishes was lifted.
TI is going to publish two more reports in the pre-election period.