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VerdictFactCheck concludes that Giga Bokeria’s statement is MOSTLY TRUE.

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The first attempt to introduce jury trial in Georgia was in 1918-1921 although it was never fully implemented because of Russia’s occupation of Georgia. In 2004, the Constitution of Georgia was amended and the jury trial was introduced in Article 82. In October 2009, the Parliament of Georgia adopted a new Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia which made the launch of jury trials even more realistic. In accordance with Article 330 of the aforementioned Code, jury trials would have been launched only in Tbilisi City Court from 2010 to 1 October 2012 and would only consider the crimes envisioned in Article 109 (homicide in aggravated circumstances) of the Criminal Code of Georgia. On 18 January 2013, the Parliament of Georgia hastily adopted the legislative initiative in the second and third hearings which enabled defendant high-ranking figures, including former officials who were arrested after the power transition in Georgia, to have their cases discussed in a jury trial. The same amendment also expanded the jury trial’s geographic area which started to cover the Batumi City Court apart from the Tbilisi and Kutaisi City Courts. On 1 October 2014, the temporary rule for the jury trial’s jurisdiction was to be amended with the jury trial becoming universal (for all crimes which envision imprisonment and in every city court). However, on 18 September 2014, the temporary jurisdiction rule was prolonged by an additional two years.

In accordance with the existing law which was adopted on 24 June 2016, the jury trial’s territorial jurisdiction covers the Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi and Rustavi City Courts as well as the Zugdidi, Telavi and Gori District Courts. In regard to subject-matter jurisdiction, cases brought before the jury trial have increased even though any substantial expansion of jury trials did not really take place.

In 2011-2018, jury trials were held for a total of 36 cases and verdicts were issued for 46 individuals. Of this amount, jury trials discussed the cases for six former officials. In one of the cases, Irakli Garibashvili offered criticism against the whole institution of the jury trial when the jury acquitted a convicted person and called it a failed institution.

Analysis European Georgia – Movement for Freedom MP, Giga Bokeria, spoke about the institution of the jury trial and stated:

“The jury trial was restored by legislation adopted in 2010 (Georgia used to have jury trials earlier in 1918-1921) and went into force and was launched in 2012 only for cases of homicides committed in aggravated circumstanced and only in Tbilisi. However, there was a plan to expand it annually. Initially, the Georgian Dream started to apply it for cases of official misconduct as well and launched jury trials in Kutaisi, too. After that, as a result of losing in one of the cases, Garibashvili came forward and condemned the institution. It has been seven years since the introduction of jury trials but, in fact, it is no longer expanding in its usage. Jury trials should be applied to any crime which envisions imprisonment but this does not happen.”

The first attempt to introduce jury trial in Georgia was during the time of the first Georgian Democratic Republic (1918-1921) and it was constitutionally mandated. Georgia’s interim government decided to carry out a court reform immediately upon coming to power with the introduction of the jury trial comprising one important component of this reform. In January 1919, the Parliament of Georgia adopted a Law on the Introduction of Jury Trial. In accordance with this law, a jury member could be selected from individuals of both sexes, who knew Georgian and reading and writing in some other language, was not under the age of 25 years and spent at least one year in a city or district from where the jury members were selected. The jury trial consisted of one judge, 12 jury members and two reserve jury members. In accordance with Article 81 of the Constitution of Georgia adopted on 21 February 1921, the jury trial covered capital crimes, political crimes and printing crimes (crimes committed within the monetary system). As a result of Russia’s occupation of Georgia, this law was not fully implemented. In regard to the institution of the jury trial in contemporary Georgia, the Constitution of Georgia was amended in February 2004 with Article 82 introducing the jury trial. In October 2009, the Parliament of Georgia adopted the new Criminal Procedure Code

of Georgia which made launching a jury trial even more realistic. In accordance with Article 226 of the 2009 Criminal Procedure Code, a case should be reviewed by a jury trial if the charges presented against a defendant envision imprisonment. There were, however,  three exceptions:  1. If, as a result of joint mediation, the court agrees that the case should be reviewed without the involvement of jury members, 2. If taking into account the gravity of the crime, there could be a danger for the life or health of the jury members or there is a danger of a heavy infringement of their immunity by other means and 3. If holding the jury trial would significantly violate the right of due process.

In accordance with Article 330 of the same code, the jury trial would only be used in Tbilisi City Court in the period of 2010 to 1 October 2012 and make verdicts on crimes envisioned by Article 109 of the Criminal Code

of Georgia (homicide committed in aggravated circumstances). If there were multiple crimes and a defendant was also accused of committing a crime envisioned by Article 109 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, the case was considered by jury trial as decreed by the Criminal Procedure Code.

Since 1 October 2012, crimes given in Article 109 of the Criminal Code of Georgia were considered by jury trial at a first instance level, not only in the Tbilisi City Court but in the Kutaisi City Court as well. If there were multiple crimes and a defendant was also accused of committing a crime envisioned by Article 109 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, the case was considered by jury trial as decreed by the Criminal Procedure Code. In this case, the High Council of Justice of Georgia determined the jurisdiction of the Tbilisi and Kutaisi City Courts and jury members were selected from respective voter lists.

On 18 January 2013, the Parliament of Georgia hastily adopted the legislative initiative in the second and third hearings which enabled defendant high-ranking figures, including former officials who were arrested after the power transition in Georgia, to have their cases discussed at a jury trial. The same amendment also expanded the jury trial’s geographic area and it started to cover the Batumi City Court

as well in addition to Tbilisi and Kutaisi.

In regard to Giga Bokeria’s statement concerning the cases of former officials, the jury trial has indeed received the criticism of former Prime Minister, Irakli Garibashvili, when a jury trial acquitted defendant, Giorgi Okropiridze. Mr Garibashvili stated

that the jury trial had failed: “We have seen that this institution collapsed and completely crashed. We are obliged to revise this and make corrections. It is undoubted that the family of the victim, Lasha Makharadze, has an absolutely fair demand to have the perpetrator prosecuted. This should be done by the state and by those means and ways undertaken by respective bodies. It is absolutely unacceptable for me that this institution failed and completely collapsed. Therefore, we shall revise it inevitably and very soon.”

On 1 October 2014, the temporary rule for jury trial jurisdiction was to be amended and the jury trial was to have become universal (for all crimes which envision imprisonment and in every city court). However, the temporary jurisdiction rule was prolonged for an additional two years on 18 September 2014. The jury trial was also not universally applied in 2016. However, jury trial’s legal jurisdiction expanded and crimes envisioned in Articles 110-114 (

different forms of homicide) were also added. In regard to territorial changes, jury trials were established in the Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi and Rustavi City Courts as well as in the Zugdidi, Telavi and Gori District Courts.

In accordance with the existing law, which was adopted on 24 June 2016, jury trial’s territorial jurisdiction covers

Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi and Rustavi City Courts together with Zugdidi, Telavi and Gori District courts.

In regard to jurisdiction, a jury trial considers a case if charges are presented by Articles 108 (intentional homicide) and 109 (intentional homicide committed in aggravated circumstances), the 2nd, 4th, 6th and 8th parts of Article 117; the 2nd part of Article 126, Article 1351; the 2nd and 4th parts of Article 143, Articles 144 and 1442, the 2nd part of Article 1443, the 2nd part of Article 146, Articles 147 and 149, the 4th part of Article 197, the 3rd part of Article 198 and Article 229 of the Criminal Code

of Georgia.

FactCheck also took interest in the statistical data of holding jury trials. In accordance with the information

provided by the Supreme Court of Georgia, jury trials were held for a total of 36 cases in 2011-2018 and verdicts were issued for 46 individuals.

Table 1:

Number of Cases Considered by Jury Trials with Verdicts

 Year    Court Considered with Verdict
Case Individual
2011 Tbilisi City Court 2 4
2012 Tbilisi City Court 1 1
2013 Tbilisi City Court 3 6
Kutaisi City Court 1 1
2014 Tbilisi City Court 3 6
Kutaisi City Court 1 1
2015 Tbilisi City Court 6 7
Kutaisi City Court 3 3
2016 Tbilisi City Court 4 4
2017 Tbilisi City Court 3 3
Kutaisi City Court 3 3
Rustavi City Court 1 2
Gori District Court 1 1
Zugdidi District Court 1 1
First Eight Months of 2018 Tbilisi City Court 3 3
Total Number of Considered Cases 36 46
 Source: Supreme Court of Georgia

Of the aforementioned cases, jury trials were held for four cases in regard to six former officials. Of this amount, two individuals were convicted and four individuals were acquitted.

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