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Amnesty: the roses get rid of thorns2008-11-17 15:14
The bill "On amnesty" presented by the president of the country on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the "Rose revolution" was passed in the first reading by the Georgian parliament. This is the first large-scale amnesty since the victory of the young reformers.
About 12 thousand people will gain liberty. According to the previous amnesty (December 2007) only 3 thousand convicts were granted pardon. And before that for the revolution anniversary last year 725 criminals were freed from imprisonment that same day on Mikhail Saakashvili's order.
At that time the opposition found a malicious intent in the head of the state's goodwill. As it took place before the enforced early presidential elections Saakashvili's opponents took the remission as a profiteering PR-step. "Mikhail Saakashvili started the election campaign very actively. The announcement of amnesty is another part of the election campaign as the permit for brushwood collection for peasants and the promise to increase the pensions up to GEL 1.600 for health professionals" - stated the resentful republicans.
Now the opposition is again unhappy. First it demanded release of political prisoners, then introduction of amendments in the draft law in order to assist to the convicts charged with the drug use. The leader of "Christian and Democratic Movement" Georgy Targamadze advocates the liberalization of the Criminal Code. "If at the time of Edward Shevarnadze there was neglectful attitude to the law now it is the fear of the authorities and it must be thought over how this situation can be changed," - he reasoned.
For the time being the amendments on amnesty by the opposition are frozen in expectation of the second reading except for those that on the initiative of the angry parliamentary minority were added at the stage of the draft law preparation to the first reading. As a result another 22 articles were added to 33 articles of the Criminal Code within "the amnesty issue".
But the authorities have made no comments on what will become of the political prisoners.
Moreover one of the leaders of the parliamentary majority Giga Bokeria asserts that there are none in Georgia. Deputy Levan Bezhashvili although he is Bokeria's team-mate has made a fundamental and honest correction: "We do not have people that were forced to prison for a political motive. All of them were arrested on criminal charges. Besides 11 persons out of the list have already been released. Apparently the opposition has false information. However if initially there were 24 names in the first list, now there are 30. Several persons like Okruashvili, Kareli and Giorgobiani were added".
There are practically no grounds to find fault with this confession. Ex minister for defense Irakly Okrusahvili that laid claim to the presidential seat was condemned for misappropriation of USD 60 mln and unauthorized use of the budget funds. His friend and a companion-in-arms, ex governor of Shida Kartly Mikhail Karelii was convicted for illegal participation in entrepreneur activity and also according to art 338 of the Criminal Code - for bribery. Bidzina Giorgobiani, ex Chairman of Forestry Department had the same charges. Even Shalva Ramishvili, a journalist, that is managing the oppositional channel "202" is serving his term not for professional deeds of valour but for blackmail.
The opposition considers all the persons above political prisoners. The conservative party posted their list of people whom it takes for political prisoners - there are 30 persons in total.