Key Defendant In Georgian Mutiny Trial Pleads Guilty
September 29, 2009
Thirteen of the 41 people currently on trial in Tbilisi on charges of seeking to overthrow Georgia's leadership have concluded plea bargains with the prosecution. The 13 include one of the alleged ringleaders, Gia Gvaladze, on whose testimony the charges against a second purported ringleader, Koba Kobaladze, are based. Five of the 13 are charged with knowing about the planned insurgency in advance but failing to alert the relevant authorities; seven face charges of insubordination.
The website civil.ge on September 28 quoted Gvaladze's new lawyer, Maya Julagidze, as saying that he has entered a plea of guilty in return for a two year prison term. Two weeks ago it was reported that Gvaladze planned to retract his initial testimony implicating Kobaladze, but he has not formally done so. Kobaladze rejects as untrue Gvaladze's testimony that he met with Kobaladze in April and sought to persuade him to participate in the planned insurrection.
Gvaladze was questioned at consecutive court sessions on September 24 and 28 and cross-examined for three hours on September 28 by defense lawyers for Kobaladze. One of those lawyers, Gela Nikolaishvili, told RFE/RL's Georgian Service on September 29 that he plans to lodge a formal request with the Prosecutor General's office to open an investigation in connection with Gvaladze's "false testimony" against Kobaladze.
Gvaladze admitted during that cross-examination that the conspirators did not commit to paper their detailed plans for seizing control of the Interior Ministry and the Prosecutor General's office. He was unable to explain why Kobaladze should have trusted him in light of a newspaper article Gvaladze published several years earlier, when Kobaladze occupied a senior position in the military hierarchy, branding Kobaladze's immediate subordinate a drug addict. Asked to whom the conspirators planned to transfer political power if they succeeded in removing the country's elected leaders, Gvaladze named opposition Labor Party chairman Shalva Natelashvili and National Democratic Party Chairman Bachuki Kardava.
Asked on September 29 by RFE/RL's Georgian Service to comment on that statement, Natelashvili burst out laughing and termed it ridiculous. But then he said that he is sick and tired of being accused of being a Russian pawn and intends to challenge the Prosecutor-General's Office to bring formal charges against him if there is indeed any evidence that he was in any way connected with the Mukhrovani mutiny. Kardava's press center told RFE/RL that Kardava considers Gvaladze's statement "silly" and for that reason does not wish formally to comment on it.
Former Georgian human rights ombudsman Sozar Subari told RFE/RL's Georgian Service on September 22 that prior to the trial his office received reports that some defendants had been beaten or tortured. He said the conduct of the investigation and trial gives the impression that the authorities are desperate to see certain persons found guilty, but he did not identify them.
Copyright (c) 2009. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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