Court of Appeals in Tbilisi upheld on May 23 lengthy prison sentences for seven men who were convicted by a lower court last year in connection to series of explosions in Georgia in 2009-2010.
30-year prison terms were upheld for five of seven convicts, whose case was heard in the Court of Appeals; 22 and seven-year prison sentences were upheld for two other convicts.
The case involves series of explosions, among them the one, which occurred outside the perimeter of the U.S. embassy in Tbilisi on September 22, 2010 and another one - outside the Labor Party office in Tbilisi on November 28, 2010, which killed a woman.
Earlier this month the prosecution announced about the intention to strike plea bargain agreements with the convicts, but it never materialized.
Six of seven convicts claimed innocence in their closing statements. One of the convicts, Gogita Arkania, sentenced to 30 years in jail, pleaded guilty of explosions carried out it Tbilisi, but told the court that other six men were not involved. “I do not know why they are here,” he said.
Several convlicts claimed they had been beaten after the arrest. One of them Merab Kolbaia, sentenced to 30 years in jail, told the court during the previous hearings that his testimonies to the investigation in which he was pleading guilty were made because he was tortured. His lawyer requested the court to question Kolbaia again as he was intending to retract his initial testimonies, but the motion was rejected.
Lawyers of the convicts say they would appeal the verdict to the supreme court.
In December, 2010 the Georgian police arrested six persons suspected of being behind those explosions and the Interior Ministry announced that an Abkhaz-based Russian military intelligence officer, Yevgeny Borisov, was a mastermind of these terrorist acts, including of an attempted explosion of a railway bridge in western Georgia.
In February, 2011 police arrested several others into the same case, including Merab Kolbaia, who was described as “one of the key figures responsible for terrorist acts organized by Russian intelligence.” In June, 2011 the Tbilisi City Court found fifteen persons guilty of terrorism and sentenced most of them, some in absentia (including Borisov), to lengthy prison terms. Some of them took their cases to the Court of Appeals.