TBILISI, DFWatch – In a new report, Georgian Young Lawyers Association’s (GYLA) concludes that the Georgian chief prosecutor’s arguments for sequestering the property of a small TV station are wrong and against the law.
Tbilisi City Court sequestrated the TV company Maestro’s satellite dishes and other technical equipments on July 20, 2012. The official reason was a suspicon that the TV company’s dishes was being bought through what’s called a hypocritical deal and the owners were going to bribe voters into supporting the opposition by giving the dishes away for free.
Bacho Kikabidze, head of Maestro, denied this and said that no-one was planning to install the dishes for free. (http://dfwatch.net/media-in-georgia-demonstrated-for-the-right-to-information-45607)
Natia Kapanadze, the head of Georgian Media Legal Defense Center, a part of GYLA, said that when the court is discussing the bribery of voters by Maestro, this is theoretical and hypothetical.
GYLA has scrutinized the court’s decision under the 151th article of the constitution, part 3. That article is about the sequestration of property used for corruption, but Georgian legislation does not have a definition of corruption. Furthermore, the court’s decision does not contain an argument for why the property of Maestro is used for corrupt purposes.
According to the Procedural Code, the property is seized until the investigation is terminated. In case of Maestro, the investigation can last for 6 years, and during this time, the property of the TV company will be sequestrated.
The property of two companies — Global Contact Consulting and Studio Maestro — has been seized, however no-one has been formally charged with attempted bribery of voters.
The Ministry of Justice has not provided any evidences that the representatives of Elita Burji were giving some instructions to Maestro.
GYLA believes that without evidence, this statement is an assumption with no basis in facts.
The supplier of Maestro is the same Turkish company which sold dishes to Global Contact Consulting. GYLA thinks that this does not allow anyone to conclude that Maestro has made a hypocritical agreement.
GYLA believes that the seizure of the satellite dishes is against the law, violates the freedom of expression and has a negative influence on the media and election environment.