The police officers affected by the protests during 7-8 March 2023, supported by the Ministry’s Legal Department, addressed the President of Georgia with a statement about abstinence from pardon Lazare Grigoriadis.
The authors of the appeal are those law enforcers who sustained various bodily severe injuries in the line of duty during the March 7-8, 2023 demonstrations, including arson.
According to the statement, law enforcers decided to appeal to the president after several reports that Lazare Grigoriadis’ family and rights activists had pleaded to Salome Zurabishvili for his forgiveness.
Affected police officers believe the President’s pardon for their attacker will create a public feeling that attacks on general law enforcement will go unpunished.
Law enforcers note that there could be an amnesty for Lazarus Grigoriadis’ violence against a family member. Still, they believe it would not be an ordinary amnesty for such a crime but a message to the public that state policy is loyal to facts of police assault, violence and domestic crime.
This action will call into question the effectiveness of fighting against crimes of this category and the efforts of state institutions.
Employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia cite as one of the reasons for the investigation the President of Georgia pardoned a person convicted of murdering 22-year-old policeman Tarash Mukbaniani, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison and left prison in 5 years.
The President of Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili, has been criticized for her pardoning policy, especially for releasing two inmates who were convicted of murdering police officers.
The cases are as follows:
Ramaz Devadze was charged with murdering a police officer, Tarash Mukbaniani, at one of the nightclubs in Batumi in 2014. Devadze, who was reportedly drunk when he shot Mukbaniani dead, was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2015.
On August 28, 2023, Zurabishvili pardoned 34 inmates, including Devadze, to reduce political tension ahead of a parliamentary election.
This decision sparked outrage from the ruling party, the opposition, and the public, who accused the President of disrespecting law enforcement and undermining the country’s stability.
Giorgi Rurua was an opposition-leaning Mtavari Arkhi TV channel shareholder and a United National Movement party member. He was arrested in November 2019 on charges of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition. He was sentenced to four years in prison in July 2020.
On April 19, 2023, Zurabishvili pardoned Rurua and 12 other inmates as part of a political agreement between the ruling Georgian Dream party and the opposition parties to end the post-election crisis.
However, the agreement was denounced by some opposition leaders and civil society groups, who claimed that Rurua was a political prisoner and his release should not be conditioned on a pardon.
Zurabishvili defended her pardoning decisions, saying that she acted in the best interests of the country and that she did not recognize any political prisoners in Georgia. She also noted that pardoning was the President’s discretion and did not intend to provide further clarification.
She stated that she would not pardon former President Mikheil Saakashvili, who was convicted of several crimes and facing more charges in Georgia.