Chronology of events from the first statement of Mamuka Akhvlediani to his dismissal
In the recent months, the public has witnessed tension between the High Council of Justice and the Chairman of the Tbilisi City Court, Mamuka Akhvledniani, which finally ended in the latter’s dismissal from his job. The events developed in the following manner:
29.12.2015 – The Chairman of the Tbilisi City Court, Mamuka Akhvlediani, met with representatives of NGOs and the media. Mr. Akhvlediani talked about the challenges and problems in the judicial system. He criticized the work of the Head of the High Council of Justice and the President of the Supreme Court, explaining that these bodies failed to fulfill their obligations appropriately.
04.01.2016 – The High Council of Justice held a session. One of the issues on the agenda was “Evaluating the statement of the Chairman of the Tbilisi City Court of December 29, 2015”. Mamuka Akhvlediani did not attend this session. On the same day, the Head and members of the High Council of Justice met with judges in the Tbilisi City Court.
06.01.2016 – The statement of Mamuka Akhvlediani was echoed by the Kutaisi City Court. According to the statement released by the Court, the goal of the Chairman of the Tbilisi City Court was to discredit and weaken the judicial system in the eyes of the public, which was “immoral, unethical and unworthy behavior on his part”. Such criticism towards the High Council of Justice evoked a negative reaction, with individual judges expressing a strongly negative attitude to Mamuka Akhvlediani through the internal network (Intranet) of the judiciary.
In February 10, 2016, the Coalition for an Independent and Transparent Judiciary filed a disciplinary complaint in the High Council of Justice of Georgia in connection with the said statements. According to the coalition, the public statement of the Kutaisi City Court regarding Mamuka Akhvlediani, as well as unethical and insulting comments of individual judges on the Intranet, violates the rules of judicial ethics and constitutes behavior unsuitable for judges that undermines the authority of and the public’s trust in the judiciary, which the applicable legislation regards as a disciplinary fault.
11.01.2016 – The High Council of Justice held its regular session and discussed organizational issues related to introduction of the procedure of interrogation of witnesses. Mamuka Akhvlediani attended this session. After a heated discussion with him, several members of the Council left the session in protest. The members reminded Mamuka Akhvlediani of the content of his statement of December 29 and pointed out that it was incomprehensible for them why the Chairman of the Tbilisi City Court was attending the session and cooperating with the Council if he had such a critical attitude to this body.
01.02.2016 – The judges of Georgia held an extraordinary conference. At the conference, the judges made a statement declaring their full trust in the work of the High Council of Justice. The judges expressed concern about the assessments made by NGOs, political actors, and the President of Georgia, which they evaluated as an attempt to influence the Council’s activity and demanded elimination of such attempts.
02.02.2016 – Mamuka Akhvlediani met with representatives of NGOs and told them that the tests for judges’ qualification exams, which were held on November 21, 2015, had been disclosed from within the High Council of Justice.
02.02.2016 – Levan Murusidze, Secretary of the High Council of Justice, stated that the Council had already been conducting an inquiry into the alleged disclosure of the tests for judges’ qualification exams for a long time.
03.02.2016 – The information about alleged disclosure of the tests for judges’ qualification exams was echoed by the Head of the High Council of Justice. According to Nino Gvenetadze, the statement of Mamuka Akhvlediani was aimed to achieve other goals, though she could not speak about these goals, because she had to observe a higher ethical standard.
03.02.2016 – Mamuka Akhvlediani stated that the High Council of Justice had launched disciplinary proceedings against him due to the statements he had made on December 29. Representatives of NGOs stated that, according to the documents presented by Mr. Akhvlediani, the disciplinary proceedings had been launched on the order of Nino Gvenetadze.
19.02.2016 – The Secretary of the High Council of Justice notified the results of the inquiry into alleged disclosure of the tests for judges’ qualification exams to members of the Council. On the same day, the Council decided to send the aforementioned materials to the Prosecutor’s Office.
22.02.2016 – The High Council of Justice of Georgia adopted a decision to dismiss Mamuka Akhvlediani from the positions of the Chairman of the Tbilisi City Court and Head of the Criminal Panel of the same court. The said decision was supported by 12 members of the Council. Only one member, Vakhtang Mchedlishvili, expressed a contrary opinion, stating that the Council had violated the principle of fairness and gone beyond the limits of its powers by adopting this decision.
23.02.2016 – The Adviser to the President of Georgia on Human Rights and Justice Issues, Kakha Kozhoridze, said that the Georgian legislation does not envisages a possibility of dismissing a chairman of a court with the procedure with which the High Council of Justice dismissed Mamuka Akhvlediani. In addition, Giorgi Kverenchkhiladze, Parliamentary Secretary of the President, noted that in the recent period the High Council of Justice had gone beyond statutory grounds in its decisions related to appointment and dismissal of judges.
23.02.2016 – Mamuka Akhvlediani met with representatives of NGOs. He stated that the High Council of Justice had made an absurd accusation against him and that he had not been given an opportunity to answer the accusation. Mr. Akhvlediani noted he was planning to appeal against the said decision.
On the same day, the Coalition for an Independent and Transparent Judiciary released a statement saying that the decision of the High Council of Justice to dismiss the Chairman grossly violates the requirements of the law and contradicts the procedures for dismissal of chairmen of courts which are set by the legislation. According to the statement, the decision is beyond any legal logic and reveals arbitrary and inappropriate application of the law on the part of the Council.
23.02.2016 – Members of the High Council of Justice met with judges of the Tbilisi City Court. The meeting participants talked about the recent developments in the judicial system. The judges openly stated their position, noting that there were problems of communication with the Chairman in addition to certain managerial flaws in the Court.