On July 18, the European Court of Human Rights (together with the case of Rustavi 2) published a final decision on “Vazagashvili and Shanava v. Georgia”. 12-year dispute based on the suit of Yuri Vazagashvili and Tsiala Shanava, the parents of Zurab Vazagashvili, killed during the so called ‘tennis court special operation’, initiated on October 20, 2007, was concluded with a clear legal assessment: “During the special operation Article 2 of the European Convention was breached and there was a procedural violation that implies the deprivation of right to life.”
The European court has concluded that during the special operation conducted on May 2, 2006 at the tennis courts police used force that led to death of Zurab Vazagashvili and was neither proportionate nor necessary. We remind you that at 10 AM on May 2, 2006 during the special operation held by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, Zurab Vazagashvili, aged 22 and Aleksandre Khubulov, aged 25 were shot on the site and Bondo Puturidze, aged 22 who was in the car with them was seriously wounded. More than 50 officers of criminal police participated in the special operation. The motor vehicle where Zurab Vazagashvili and Aleksandre Khubulovi were, was hit by more than 70 bullets…
What does the decision of the Strasbourg Court mean for the Georgian justice and should more active legal processes follow this decision in the country, the lawyer and protector of rights Nana Kakabadze spoke to “Georgia and the World”.
_ Ms. Nana, on July 18 the Strasbourg Court published a final decision on the ‘tennis courts’ case’. The dispure ‘Vazagashvili and Shanava v. Geogria’ was ended with the incriminating verdict. What do yo think, what processes should this verdict entail in Georgia? It is clear that they have to pay compensation to the injured families, but is this an adequate verdict?
– I’ll start from a bit far. The decision made by the Strasbourg Court on July 18 brought light to not only one or two concrete widely known cases, but also something more and brought many things to the surface, including good and bad. It was good that the European Court has done what the Georgian authorities failed to do for a long time – to judge the regime, what the majority of the population demanded; In fact, the court said that for nine years there was violence, torture, inhuman treatment, murders, deprivation of property in the country. Most importantly, it said that the government was behind all of this, and practically it was open and clear assessment of the nine-year horrific regime. If this government has a slight sense of justice and responsibility before the people, its direct commitment is that what Strasbourg said is to be recognized at the parliament level and eventually it will be the basis for the trial of the “regime of the National Movement”. This is one. Second, I think it is very important and interesting, what were the reactions to the decision of the European Court of Justice from the political forces in the country. I mean a specific party – “National Movement” and its divisions …
– What reaction do you mean specifically?
– The people who have used European law for years as a shield; The people, who claimed to be respecting the Western democratic institutions, now speak about the Kremlin’s influence with a sort of irony when speaking about the decision of the European Court. Some estimate the decision as an instruction of Ivanishvili, some of Vladimir Putin… We hear serious allegations against one of the most authoritative Western institutions whose principles and values seem to be the main focus of their foreign policy. These things once again show that these people do not have any values and they consider the power who are not on their side to be governed from Russia. It is a significant moment that they are not going to stop. Saakashvili directly said that now there is no time to give up and surrender and universal mobilization is needed to attack “the evil” with united forces. , I think it is clear to everyone what he means in the attack, but I think the biggest threat to the situation is the inaction of the government and society.
_ What should be done?
– These people should be unmasked at the international level. Each phrase, statement by which they are accusing the European Court of executing the order of the Kremlin or Bidzina Ivanishvili, or question its objectivity, must be translated into English and disseminated. This will make the West see who they have been funding for years, who they have protected and supported.
As for the so-called NGOs who have been engaged around “Rustavi 2” and these days are on TV with hard faces to protect the “Freedom of Speech”, and I can not recall that these people were so concerned about November 7, 2007 when Special Forces entered Imedi TV and dispersal of people was broadcast live. The rubber bullets were shot against the journalists and the people who were bruised were taken out with bound hands. Where were they? Was not than the freedom of speech threatened?
– Let’s get back to Vazagashvili’s case. Who do you think should be responsible, who should be punished?
– As for the case of Vazagashvili, justice will be restored when not the executors, the subordinates, but the directors will be punished by the full strictness of the law. However, I will repeat that neither one case of Vazagashvili or another person can be an exception. This is a whole process and until legal approaches are not completely changed in the country, it is not reasonable to speak about someone’s responsibility. Over the years we have often heard, including from the representatives of this power that there was not enough evidence to punish the perpetrators. Now this problem has been solved. There is the world’s most authoritative court decision to recognize that people, young innocent boys, were tortured in the streets, people suffered degrading treatment, and property abuse. These are the three main things Strasbourg said and I think this decision should become the basis for the restoration of justice in the country. Who should be punished specifically and how hard it is to investigate. The National Movement, as a criminal organization, must now be tried. These people should be prohibited to stay in politics for at least 50 years, if not forever.
– Strasbourg’s decision made a lot of hope that justice will be restored now. Do you think what will happen if the government does not present the relevant political will? There is probably a separate problem here that there are many people in the judiciary system of the previous government.
– If this government does not come to the consciousness and does not cease cooperation with the criminal organization; If at least now they will not enforce the will of the majority of the population and will not begin restoration of justice, they may be able to repulse Saakashvili’s gangs in Parliament or in any other state system, they may be able to repulse them tomorrow, but you have heard the expression “the jug breaks at the water spring”, they will not be able to repulse them the day after tomorrow; because the “National Movement” is a dangerous criminal force that is not going to stop because they have only two choices – a prison and prion bars, or come to power by force. By the way, several days ago Nika Gvaramia was directly threatening: when we come to power, we will arres Khalvashi and others. Do you realize what they speak about? The man has been justified by all three instances of Georgian justice, and then the international court said the same and Gvaramia says that when they come to power, they will get arrest him… I repeat: they will not stop until the country is overturned. Even if there is a mankind decision, not only Strasbourg’s decision, they will not consider. That is why it is time for the criminals to be judged, otherwise the country that has been overturned in the civil confrontation cannot be helped any more. Well, the society should also be active to force the government to take this step; The authorities are obliged to remove these criminals from power …
– What can be done by the society?
_ All forms of protest, every way and method should be used for it. Everyone, young and old should rise and come out on Rustaveli Avenue with this request, but now we are not tortured, killed or raped and this is why we don’t want to act. This is precisely the fact why that criminals have long been unpunished in the country. The decision of the Strasbourg Court is a green light for the Georgian justice, which has so far been the object of criticism and accusation. Now the West officially admits that for the nine years there have been grave offenses, and most importantly, they said it was systemic. The government, which will not restore justice after this decision, does not deserve the right to stay in the power.
Interviewed by Jaba Zhvania