Today, on November 2, the judges of the Tbilisi Court of Appeals, Merab Jorbenadze, Lavrenti Maghlakelidze and David Mamiseishvili found Nika Gvaramia, the former director of "Rustavi 2" and the founder of "TV Mtavari", guilty of abuse of power (two episodes - the so-called commercial airtime sale and the so-called vehicle episode). As a final sanction, he was sentenced to 3 years and 6 months imprisonment.
Today's decision is slightly different from the judgement of the Tbilisi City Court judge - Lasha Chkhikvadze of May 16, 2022, as the appeals court has aggravated the sanctions imposed in relation to the so-called “commercial air-time sale episode” and instead of a fine, Gvaramia was sentenced to 3 years and 6 months imprisonment. Finally, based on the principle of absorption of sentences, the term of a prison sentence was not changed.
Based on the study of the case materials and observation of the court processes, we can conclude that the case is politically motivated. It aims to punish Nika Gvaramia and disrupt the activities of a critical media outlet.
The flawed administration of justice significantly affects and degrades the existing media environment and standards of protection of human rights and freedoms in general, further deepens the polarization in the country, as well as contradicts the spirit of the EU’s 12-point requirements and fails to ensure stable democratic development.
The efforts made by international partners over the years to strengthen the judicial system have been significantly damaged by the actions of the members of the clan. Politically motivated cases are one of the indicators of challenges to judicial independence. Similar cases cast a shadow on the judiciary, including impartial judges. Accordingly, we believe that in the future spending the partners’ resources on judges, who in the past have violated human rights, won't have a positive impact on the development of the judiciary.