Head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II, said on Saturday that the Patriarch should have the power to grant pardons to convicts.
Standing alongside with PM Irakli Garibashvili after attending a theater play performed by female prisoners, Patriarch Ilia II said: “We had a conversation with Mr. Prime Minister. The Patriarch should have the right to pardon inmates and probably the authorities will raise this issue.”
Under the Georgian constitution only the President has the power to grant pardons and extending this power to the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church will require constitutional amendment, which needs support of at least 113 MPs in 150-member Parliament.
The PM did not comment on the issue, but prison system minister, Kakha Kakhishvili, who was also present at the event, said: “I think that the Patriarch should really have the right to grant pardons. He is the leader of the nation. I do not know anyone wiser than him… It will require constitutional amendments.”
Ruling Georgian Dream coalition lawmaker Eka Beselia, who chairs parliamentary committee for human rights and who was also present at the event, also spoke in favor and said that the Patriarch enjoys with the highest public confidence.
“If there is a political agreement, I am sure that this [proposal] to grant this right to the Georgian Patriarch at a legislative level will have many supporters,” she said.