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The opposition demands the release of political prisoners2008-11-13 18:05
Alongside the large-scale amnesty, Georgia's government is promising to pardon a series of prisoners who will not be freed on the basis of the amnesty law.
Members of the anti-crisis council created in the Georgian parliament have already compiled a list of prisoners who, in their opinion, should be freed. The list consists of 16 people, including the former founder and head of the independent TV company ‘202' Levan Ramishvili, the former head of the TV company ‘Adjari Television' Tamaz Bakuridze, the niece of Georgia's former security minister and one of the leaders of the ‘Justice' party Maya Topuria, and a series of other figures who were arrested on political grounds.
The list includes members of the Labour party, and also representatives of the United Opposition who were arrested during protest actions.
Since the articles under which these citizens were arrested were not part of the amnesty bill, members of the anti-crisis council are demanding that they be pardoned.
"The decision must be taken primarily by President Saakashvili. A specific decision will be taken on each individual case," Georgy Tsagareishvili, a member of the anti-crisis council and deputy for the parliamentary minority, explained to journalists.
The amnesty bill has already been agreed upon by parliament and the government, and today it will begin to be discussed in the parliamentary committees. On Friday the bill will be examined in its first reading, and the deputies will ratify it in its second and third readings next week.
On the back of the amnesty bill about 2000 people will be released from prison, approximately a further 3500 prisoners will have the duration of their sentences halved, and 6500 people will have their suspended sentences lifted.
Representatives from the parliamentary opposition view the allegations made by non-parliamentary opposition parties, which are saying that the amnesty bill was devised without their participation, as unfair.
"All political forces were able to participate in the development and discussion of this bill, but they did not show any urge to do so," say members of the parliamentary minority. They also disagree with the claim that the amnesty will not actually be carried out on a large scale. According to opposition deputies, this time the amnesty will be extended to 12,000 prisoners, which will make it the most wide-scale amnesty of recent years.