Attorney and human rights defender Gela Nikoleishvili is speaking with us about ongoing legal processes, the work of prosecution and the evaluation of west.
Mr. Gela, the interest of society about current legal processes is so big, that somehow an impression is created that the government is trying to conceal some more problematic themes with this theme. The arrest of Vano Merabishvili caused a serious disturbance both in internal and external geopolitical fields, and the scandal still continues. How do you evaluate all of this? What reality do we have after 7 months from change of government in the sphere of justice?
At first I will say that the arrest of Vano Merabishvili was not a scandal at all. There would be a scandal if he was not arrested, since there are many proofs and all of this will be revealed on court trials against him. If some coloring of scandal is still attached to this case, it is just because our ex-government created their image of democrats in the west. Saakashvili is using this image up to current day together with his team in certain circles and this exactly these circles are trying today to discredit the government of Ivanishvili. Of course they will not silence, but I repeat again, there are lots of witnesses and proofs; this is why when reliable proofs will be shown against such persons as Merabishvili or Akhalaia, I am sure everyone will keep quiet.
Several years ago you stated, that Vano Merabishvili will keep circulating lies even from prison. What power do his statements have today? On whom, on which part of society may he have influence?
In this case I mean his statements about the fact that, as if it is investigated who killed those two people on May 26th. According to his words, this person is Iva Chigvinadze, which is absurd; therefore Vano Merabishvili accused totally innocent person in double murder. About your question, who can be influenced by such statements, I said before and I am repeating again: Merabishvili is so discredited today, that even if he says truth, the society does not look at it seriously anymore, therefore what will he say, how will he accuse and in what does not have any meaning anymore.
During years we heard talking, that ex-governmental officials (there were accusations including Merabishvili too) appropriated governmental property, they were confiscating money from businessmen and etc. Although the process of restoration of justice has already begun and many ex-high ranking officials were arrested and we are closely watching this process, there were no questions asked to any of them regarding this illegal property, and they did not touch even partially the question of confiscation. What do you think about this?
Vano Merabishvili and Adeishvili did not go to businessmen personally to take their money, but everyone is aware that it was their orders according to which people were making those so called “gifts”. Lots of people speak openly today about blackmailing which was conducted by the people of “National Movement”. I am sure even more citizens will speak in future about such cases publicly and therefore I think, Merabishvili will sooner or later be accused of these crimes too; so everything is yet to come here. Nobody knows what will the investigation find in future and what kind of criminal schemes will be dug out.
Today, prosecution is busy mainly with famous cases, but there are lots of other people, towards whom the past government has committed different crimes. How do you think, will the current court trial include each of these people?
They should include every one of them, in other case there will be no feeling of restored justice. Probably it is impossible to do by 100 percent, but at least the majority should have this feeling. In other case, our society will feel the same disappointment as it happened with the ex-government.
What Merabishvili, Akhalaia, Adeishvili and generally the central core of “Nat-Movement” was doing, the same was done by local representatives in regions – governors, wardens, saying nothing about the high ranking police officials – they were going through fire to please the high echelons. Do you think that the case about their responsibility should arise too? How necessary is this?
I think it is not necessary, its obligatory, because when we are speaking about restoration of justice, this should not touch only one or two persons; no matter what will be the court decision in cases of Merabishvili and Adeishvili, only this will not create the feeling of justice.
In the beginning, you said, that in the west some political circles are still conducting the PR Campaign in favor of “National Movement”. Diplomats asked many questions towards the government because of arrest of Merabishvili. Including Kathrin Ashton, Philip Gordon, Richard Norland and etc. How do you think, what is their interest in this case?
It will be hard for me to speak about particular persons, but considering general statements, this is still the result of the fact, that Saakashvili was called the light of democracy during years long. We all know well what kind of light he was and is today, but when they were screaming this for nine years, now it’s a bit complicated to say the contrary in one day. The destruction of stereotypes is not this easy, but I will say it once again, when the government will publish every evidence, after some time, I am sure that they will change their attitude even in western circles, at least they will be ashamed of speaking about political persecution.
How satisfied are you with the work of prosecution and its transparency as an attorney and human rights defender?
I am totally unsatisfied, because 80% of the staff is the old ones and they use the same old guidelines. I would divide them into three parts: first ones who work in the regime of sabotage, they are not even trying to reveal the objective truth, because they have ruined it themselves and if the facts will be found out, they themselves would have to answer some questions; second, the ones who just cannot work the other way, and third, those who transferred into the team of the new government. They are doing everything to please the government, but they lack the qualification. I am speaking about the major mass, because of course there are several, about 10-20% of prosecutors who are both qualified and motivated, but generally their work does not have a great effect on the prosecution as a whole…
After the arrests of Akhalaia and Merabishvili, rumors are that this trial may also touch Saakashvili himself. Archil Kbilashvili stated several times about possibility of his summoning in prosecution. What is your opinion about this?
I think there is every basis, after the October to see Saakashvili on the chair of the defendant, I mean the legal basis. About the political side, how will the government manage to assure certain circles in the west that this arrest would be that necessary, is another question. One thing is clear here: the main order of society is restoration of justice and when we are speaking about the rule of law, this law should be the same for everyone. Saakashvili, of course, cannot be an exception. Therefore, if it will be necessary, we will see him in prosecutor’s office, in court and not only as a witness…
Interviewed by Jaba Zhvania