The Tbilisi City Court found Gigi Ugulava, former Tbilisi Mayor and secretary general of the opposition European Georgia party, guilty of abusing power while serving as the mayor of the capital city.
Ugulava was sentenced to one year and three months in prison (article 333 of the criminal code, exceeding official powers), but under the principle of concurrent sentencing, the sentence was absorbed by graver penalty (delivered by the Court of Appeals in January 2017), and Ugulava’s sentence was considered served.
Charges into the same case were also filed against other municipality officials, including former deputy mayor of the capital city, Davit Alavidze, former head of the procurement service in the Tbilisi City Hall, Alexi Tabuashvili, and former head of Old Tbilisi district, Davit Avaliani. All three will have to serve a conditional sentence for a term of one year and two months.
Former head of the Tbilisi Development Fund, Giorgi Sabanadze, was sentenced to eight years in jail in absentia, while his deputy, Dimitry Chkheidze, was acquitted.
According to the Prosecutor’s Office, the investigation established that Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava and other municipality officials misspent GEL 48.18 million of public money from Tbilisi Development Fund, the municipal entity designed to finance rehabilitation of Old Tbilisi. The municipality funds, the prosecutor’s office claimed, were illegally channeled for financing the then ruling United National Movement’s activists ahead of the 2012 parliamentary polls.
Ugulava’s defense lawyer criticized the court ruling as “politically motivated,” saying it would be challenged in the upper instance court.