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Okruashvili: half-justified or half-guilty?09.01.2013 | 18:29
Former Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili is no longer accused of negligence, abuse of power and misappropriation of shares in the company "Geocell". Georgian Prosecutor General's Office dropped the charges for these items on Tuesday, October 8. At the same time, the department is still studying the materials on the other two cases: the organization of illegal armed groups and illegal acquisition of 63 million rounds of ammunition. Experts in Georgia and Russia agree that the investigation against Okruashvili was held without politicking, in compliance with all legal formalities.
As noted by Kukava, leader of "Free Georgia", the first part of the charges against Okruashvili, including the closure of the case, "was not a subject for debate" from the very beginning, since the charges were clearly "fabricated" in September 2007 by the President Mikheil Saakashvili. "After Okruashvili's voluntary return we could assume with certainty that the charges for these items will be dropped, the more that his personal lawyer Ms Beselia (Eka Beselia. - Ed.) is now the chairman of the parliamentary committee on human rights", Kukava said in an interview to the GTimes.
"As for the second part - the charges filed after the defeat of the meeting on May 26, 2011 - that is another story", the expert continues. "Under these articles, Okruashvili is accused of connection with the Russian special services, the intention to invade Georgia from the northern border - from North Ossetia, through Tskhinval - and to organize riots in the suburbs of Tbilisi, and later in Tbilisi. Position of the current administration on this item is unclear. Comments of the Minister of Justice Thea Tsulukiani, saying that the accusations against Okruashvili were falsified, but perhaps not all, also cause ambiguity".
Okruashvili is sure of his innocence, since he has voluntarily returned to Georgia, Kukava believes. He adds that after the election on October 1, 2012, many have returned home, but none of them has an absolute guarantee that the new government will justify them. "The difference is that under Saakashvili there was no sense to sue, since everyone knew that the decisions were made by Saakashvili personally, and the prosecution and the judiciary acted as notaries: sign and put the press", emphasizes Kukava. "And now Okruashvili has a chance. He can sue, bring some proof. During the reign of Saakashvili it was impossible to drop a charge against a political prisoner. This has not happened. So Okruashvili now has much higher chances to defend himself than prior to the election on October ".
According to Felix Staniewski, Russian political scientist, the head of the Caucasus department of the CIS Institute, for the current Georgian leadership it is "extremely important" to show impartiality in the proceedings relating to violations of constitutional norms, human rights in Georgia at a time when "Saakashvili sovereignly ruled". In the opinion of the expert, we must consider the story of Georgian ex-minister from this point of view. "Okruashvili has been in opposition to the regime of Saakashvili for many years, and yet the current leadership is considering charges against the regime from a strictly legal point of view", Stanevsky explains in an interview to the GTimes. "There is no politicking, everything is done in accordance with generally accepted standards. I think the issue is being considered seriously, and if the charges on three items are dropped, so there is reason for this. The same applies to the other two items. If charges remain, therefore, there's a good reason for this".
Impartiality in Okruashvili's case, Russian politician says, emphasizes the legitimacy of charges put forward by the new government against "leaders of the former regime". "An indicative moment is when the charges against Okruashvili in relation to military procurement were acquitted on the grounds that the signature on the document belonged not to him, but to the head of the procurement department. The court does not claim that Okruashvili has nothing to do with it, but its approach is good: signature was not his, no other evidence - hence, the charge must be dropped. This is right approach, and the current leadership is committed to this line. In short, the removal of the three charges is seen as a very positive factor, indicating the fair treatment of the present government to those who ruled Georgia in recent years", Stanevsky sums up.
From the expert's point of view, if Okruashvili is fully cleared of the charges, the ex-minister has a good chance to return to politics. "The opposition in power is not opposition of supporters", our source says. "They have completely different approaches to certain issues in Georgia, often very serious. But the fact is that this opposition is acting today rather vigorously and jointly. I see no reason for Okruashvili not to join this solidarity".