Ugulava Case

Ugulava's supporters protest his imprisonment at the Tbilisi City Hall

Photo: ტაბულა
Supporters of Gigi Ugulava and member of the United National Movement protested against the imprisonment of Tbilisi's former mayor. Gigi Ugulava was a mayor of Tbilisi between 2005-2014. At a rally that was devoted to Ugulava's 41st birthday, his supporters pointed out that Ugulava is a political prisoner. Ugulava was arrested for misappropriation of funds and embezzlement in July 2014 and has spend more than two years in prison. Ahead of his conviction, Ugulava spend more than 9 months in pre-trial detention that as the Constitutional Court later found, came in contradiction with the Georgian legislation and constitution.
Ugulava has appealled his case in the Constitutional Court. Ugulava filed a lawsuit questioning the validity of the 14th Article of the Criminal Code as vague and unclear. Ugulava and his lawyers think that the articles on embezzlement, appropriation, and abuse of power can be easily interpreted and used in an unconstitutional manner by the prosecution. They argue that these offenses are not legally well-defined and leave room for broad interpretation.
In a previous case, the Court upheld Ugulava’s landmark case against the Parliament and found that the clause in the Criminal Procedure Code on pre-trial detention to be unconstitutional. Ugulava spent 14 months in pre-trial detention and argued that keeping an individual in pre-trial detention for more than nine months is unconstitutional. The Court decision was close scrutinized by the media and civil society, since one of the Constitutional Court judges, Merab Turava, was absent when the announcement was made and his signature was also absent from the decision. Civil society representatives accused there was pressure from the government. The Court was planning to announce the decision on the 15th of September 2015, however since Judge Turava was ill (and he was accused of trying to buy time), the announcement was postponed. The Court decided to go on the next day to announce the decision anyways. After spending 14 months in pre-trial detention, Ugulava was let go for a day following the decision of the Constitutional Court. However in less than 24 hours, the Court delivered the verdict, Ugulava and his family members had been waiting for the decision outside the Court. After the decision Ugulava was escorted by the marshals back to prison. He was sentenced 4 years and 6 months in jail.




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