President’s Representative in Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti Lost Suit against Journalists

On June 10 Zugdidi district court did not satisfy the suit of Zaza Gorozia, Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti Regional Governor, against Ilia Chachibaia, a journalist in Zugdidi and the regional newspaper “Tavisufali Gazeti” where he works.

[18:44 12.06.2008]

February 7-13, 2008 edition of the newspaper “Tavisufali Gazeti” published an interview with Ilia Chachibaia who reported that local authority had persecuted him because of the critical articles that he had published. In 2007, it is claimed that Zaza Gorozia offered him 10,000 GEL in exchange for his silence.

Gorozia appealed to the court on March 24. He demanded compensation of 10 thousand GEL from nineteen-year-old Chachibaia for having “insulted and disrespected his character and insulted his reputation.” However, later the regional governor denies the fact that he had requested such compensation.

Manana Kobakhidze and Meri Japaridze, lawyers from the non-governmental organization “Article 42 of the Constitution” defended Ilia Chachibaia before the court. Irma Meskhia, journalist for the “Tavisufali Gazeti” also attended the process. She was the journalist who had interviewed Ilia Chachibaia for the above-mentioned edition of the newspaper.

Tamar Lepsveridze, editor of the Tavisufali Gazeti, reported that attorney of Gorozia was ten minutes late for the trial. The attorney claimed he had received summon on June 9 and it was the reason for his delay. Judge Amrido Gelantia did not let the attorney into the trial. Gelantia stated summon was handed to Gorozia several days before. According to the Law on the Freedom of Speech and Expression the gravity of the claims against a journalist or evaluated about other types of proceedings and the burden on proof of a tort having been committed is placed on the petitioner and not the respondent.

“Unprecedented example of case law was decided in Zugdidi – a newspaper won over a regional governor,” stated Lepsveridze.

Ilia Chachibaia, editor of the regional newspaper “Ghia Boklomi”, stated he and his colleagues will continue work under serious repression.