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Public Defender Responds to Imposition of Obligation of Non-disclosure on Defence in Giorgi Shakarashvili Case

The Public Defender of Georgia is responding to the imposition of the obligation of non-disclosure on the lawyers of those accused in connection with the murder of Giorgi Shakarashvili and considers that the unjustified imposition of the obligation may violate the equality of arms.

On August 12, 2020, the Prosecutor's Office of Georgia obligated the lawyers of the 5 people accused of the premeditated murder of Giorgi Shakarashvili to refrain from disclosing the materials of the criminal case. The Prosecutor's Office informed the lawyers that otherwise they might be held criminally liable. It is noteworthy that some of the lawyers refused to receive the case materials due to the above.

According to the procedural law, the Prosecutor's Office is authorized to oblige parties not to disclose information relating to the case without its permission. However, this power should not be exercised at the expense of violating the core principles of criminal procedure - adversarial proceedings and equality of arms. The given mechanism is being appealed to the Constitutional Court of Georgia.

During filing charges, the Prosecutor's Office provided information to the public about the evidence, the version of the investigation and the relevant graphic reconstruction. Under these circumstances, naturally, the defence should also have the opportunity to speak equally about the case materials and express their opinion.

The Public Defender considers that the imposition of such an obligation on the lawyers is not conditioned by the objectives of the criminal procedure law, but is a continuation of the wrong practice aimed at indirectly putting the defence in an unequal position. The Public Defender of Georgia calls on the Prosecutor's Office of Georgia to ensure the protection of the principle of equality of arms in relation to the disclosure of case materials.

We would also like to call on all parties to protect and respect the rights of all persons (witnesses, victims, defendants) involved in criminal cases as much as possible. The above is an important circumstance for the effective and proper conduct of any investigation and protection of human rights.

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