Thirteen people from parties and organizations affiliated with wanted ex-security chief Igor Giorgadze’s Justice Party have been sentenced to jail after the Tbilisi City Court found them guilty of plotting a coup.
Prison terms of between three and a half years and eight and a half years were handed down by the court on August 24. Maia Topuria, a relative of Giorgadze’s, was sentenced to eight and a half years' imprisonment.
A total of 29 people were arrested last September, but, only thirteen of them were charged.
Maia Nikoleishvili, a leader of the Anti-Soros movement, however, was later released on bail after pleading guilty and giving testimony against the other 12 activists. She was given a suspended sentence of two-years.
Lawrence Barcella, an attorney for Maia Topuria, said the evidence presented by the prosecutors was fabricated and the trial – politically motivated. Court hearings were held behind closed doors, apparently to protect witnesses.
“It was a disgraceful trial, a travesty of our justice system,” another defense lawyer, Gela Nikolaishvili, said.
The political parties and organizations to which the coup plotters were affiliated were small and marginal and never had any widespread public support in Georgia. The arrests came ahead of the October 2006 local elections and some opponents of the Saakashvili administration claim they were made to further consolidate public support behind a perceived persistent threat of Russian-orchestrated destabilization.