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Besik Pipia’s “case” background2009-09-18 09:40
Letter C that was accidentally put instead of Category B in the driving license belonging to Director of the Georgian RIA Novosti agency Besik Pipia became a reason for criminal prosecution of the journalist in Georgia. The absurdity of accusations was stressed by lawyers and oppositionists; still, the case was not dismissed. RIA Novosti sought the assistance of the Russian MFA which classified the incident as political persecution.
This summer, in one of the comments published in the Opinions column on RIA Novosti web-site Besik Pipia said the following about Georgia: "There are no dependable legal and political guarantees of inviolability of natural human rights in the country". Two months later, he found himself facing the oddity of the Georgian law-enforcement system.
The Georgian MIA accused him of driving license falsification. A criminal case was opened according to Article 362 of the Georgian Criminal Code: "Production, realization and usage of forged documents, stamps and forms". Chief editor of the Russian Department of the informational agency is facing a fine or three years of imprisonment; Pipia had to give written undertaking not to leave the place.
It is Pipia's driving license that the Georgian law-enforcement agencies consider to be forged. The license was issued by Department of Internal Affairs of Zugdidi in 1991, specifying Category C which allows trucks driving. The original document dated 1977 gave Pipia the right to drive cars of Category B. The mistake was discovered in September when the head of RIA Novosti department handed over his driving license to the administrative policy service agency of the Georgian MIA in Rustavi for replacement. While presenting the documents, Pipia also showed a driving license issued in 1999 by a relevant service of the Main Directorate of Police of Saint-Petersburg with only B category specified in it.
According to attorney Rezo Mkheidze, his defendant never passed a truck driving exam and the mark of Category C was put there by mistake by the state body that issued the duplicate. "There are no material elements of offence in Besik Pipia's actions, so long as my defendant never used Category C specified in his driving license and never drove any trucks", - the attorney added.
Another well-known Georgian lawyer, co-author of the Criminal Procedural Code of Georgia Gia Meparishvili who has studied the case also came to a conclusion that there are no elements of offence in it. "Besik Pipia never forged his driving license and did not make any mechanical changes to the document issued in his name", - he underlined.