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USSR: Fair trial concern in the Republic of Georgia: the case of Dzhaba Ioseliani

, Índice: EUR 46/039/1991

Amnesty International is concerned at allegations that political prisoner Dzhaba Ioselliani, held in pre-trial detention in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, has been denied access to a defence lawyer of his own choice. The organization fears that this may adversely affect his right to a fair trial.

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EXTERNAL
AI INDEX: EUR 46/39/91
FAIR TRIAL CONCERN IN THE
REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA (USSR)
The case of Dzhaba IOSELIANI
17 June 1991
Amnesty International is concerned at allegations that political prisoner
Dzhaba Ioselliani, held in pre-trial detention in the Georgian capital of
Tbilisi, has been denied access to a defence lawyer of his own choice. The
organization fears that this may adversely affect his right to a fair
trial.
Dzhaba Ioseliani, the head of an armed opposition group known as
Mkhedrioni (Horsemen), was arrested on 19 February 1991 in Tbilisi. He has
been charged with "organizing an armed band with the aim of attacking state
or public institutions or enterprises", under Article 78 of the Georgian
Criminal Code. This carries a penalty of up to 15 years' imprisonment, or
death.
The day after his arrest Dzhaba Ioseliani's sister, Lili, asked a
lawyer named Kartlos Garibashvili to act as her brother's legal
representative during the investigation of the case. According to Kartlos
Garibashvili he experienced problems in registering as such with the
Georgian College of Advocates. He was only able to complete the
formalities on 25 February 1991, and on the same day he approached a
procuracy official investigating the case with a request to see his client.
He was told this would not be possible until 1 March, although a law passed
in the Georgian Republic on 28 December 1990 stipulates that a defence
lawyer may participate in a case from the moment of detention, arrest or
charge.
Kartlos Garibashvili was able to meet with Dzhaba Ioseliani on 1
March and on one other occasion, but claims that he was subsequently denied
further access to his client or the opportunity to acquaint himself with
the materials of the case. He further alleges that the procuracy
threatened to bring unspecified criminal charges against him, and that one
of the procuracy investigators on Dzhaba Ioseliani's case asked the
Georgian Minister of Justice and the Georgian College of Advocates to
exclude him from the latter body. On 22 March the same investigator
removed Kartlos Garibashvili from the case. On 15 April Dzhaba Ioseliani's
son Konstantin formally requested that Kartlos Garibashvili again represent
his father's interests but the procuracy once more refused to grant the
lawyer access.
Amnesty International campaigns for fair and prompt trials for
political prisoners. The right to communicate with a defence lawyer of
one's own choosing is guaranteed under Article 14 of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Amnesty International is urging
the Georgian authorities to ensure that Dzhaba Ioseliani be granted such
access, in accordance with international norms. Furthermore the
organization is concerned that he could face the death penalty without
adequate preparation of his case.
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Dzhaba Ioseliani was born on 10 July 1926 and served three prison
terms on criminal charges before being pardoned in 1965. He is a now a
playwright and professor at the Shota Rustavelli Theatrical Institute and
the Tbilisi State University. In 1989 he founded the Mkhedrioni
organization, described as an independent paramilitary organization
intended as a step towards the creation of a national army in a Georgian
republic independent of the Soviet Union, and as a peacekeeping force in
areas of ethnic tension. It is said to have around 5,000 members who are
politically opposed to the current government of Georgia, headed by
President Zviad Gamsakhurdia. Dzhaba Ioseliani has been outspoken in his
criticism of the government, including parliament's decision to abolish the
autonomous status of South Ossetia, a territory within the republic, and of
what he perceives as the dictatorial tendencies of Zviad Gamsakhurdia.
On 18 February 1991 some 30 members of Mkhedrioni were arrested at
the organization's base in Shavnabad by Soviet troops and members of the
National Guard of Georgia. Others were arrested in different parts of the
republic over the next few days. At least two were said to have been
killed and a number wounded during the arrests, and at least two Soviet
soldiers were also reportedly wounded. Most of those arrested are believed
to have been charged with possession of arms and assault with intent to
rob.
On 3 May Dzhaba Ioseliani began a hunger-strike in support of a
number of political demands, including the resignation of Zviad
Gamsakhurdia and the release of all political prisoners (several members of
the opposition National Democratic Party of Georgia, which supports
Mkhedrioni, have also been arrested). He is currently being forcibly fed.

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