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On 31 July 2015, the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, commented upon the issue of Interpol removing Davit Kezerashvili from the ‘wanted list’ and told journalists: "Certain methodologies have been changed in Interpol and everything is due to this… Yanukovych has been removed from the ‘wanted list’ as well."

FactCheck

took interest in the Prime Minister’s statement.

On 31 July 2015, following the earlier removal of Zurab Adeishvili from its ‘wanted list,’ Interpol also removed the former Minister of Defence of Georgia, Davit Kezerashvili, from the roster

of its wanted persons whilst the organisation’s General Secretariat refused to put Mikheil Saakashvili on the international search list. It was whilst describing the aforementioned facts that the Prime Minister of Georgia stated that this was all due to the change in Interpol’s methodology.

Davit Kezerashvili’s lawyer, Shota Mindeli, stated about the matter: "Concerning Mr Kezerashvili, Interpol has made a decision to remove him from the red circular. This is the second case for Georgia. This further confirmed that a competent and reliable organisation, such as Interpol, believes that a politically motivated criminal investigation is indeed in action against Davit Kezerashvili."

The Head of the Centre for the Protection of the Rights and Security of Migrants and Foreigners and an Advisor to Bergerac City Hall, Nugzar Sulashvili, denied any changes in Interpol’s methodology and stated: "Interpol has not changed any rules. The organisation is still adhering to the legislation adopted in 1956, Article 3 of which forbids putting persons on the ‘wanted list’ for political reasons and says it is against the organisation’s Constitution."

According to the statement of the Parliamentary Minority MP of the Parliament of Georgia, Nugzar Tsiklauri, Interpol made its decision based upon Article 3

of its Constitution: "Interpol rejected the request of the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia to put Mikheil Saakashvili on the international ‘wanted list’ which was due to Article 3 of the organisation’s Constitution and which explicitly forbids it from pursuing people based upon political motives. The aforementioned Article was adopted in 1956. Hence, the statement of the Prime Minister of Georgia where he says that the reasons for the refusal are changes made in the organisation is simply comical."

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contacted Davit Kezerashvili’s lawyer, Shota Mindeli, who indicated that he has access to the document adopted by Interpol but cannot use it publicly. However, he once again confirmed that Mr Kezerashvili was removed from the ‘wanted list’ because of the politically motivated criminal proceedings against him which contradict Article 3 of Interpol’s Constitution. Mr Mindeli assessed the Prime Minister’s statement about "certain changes in Interpol" as "political stunts" and pointed out that the organisation’s decision has nothing to do with any legal changes within.

From the Government of Georgia, the Minister of Justice of Georgia, Tea Tsulukiani, has also commented upon the issue: "Interpol’s decision hinders Georgia’s policing structure in combating crime. This is a regrettable fact as we traditionally have a good partnership with Interpol. I have my doubts about how this decision was made as Interpol has changed its methodology." Similar to Irakli Gharibashvili, Ms Tsulukiani also stated that Interpol changed its methodology. However, neither the Prime Minister nor the Minister of Justice elaborated upon what kind of "methodology" or "method" has been changed.

The statement of the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia says: "In this case, Interpol’s General Secretariat made its decision without giving the Georgian side the opportunity to present its arguments concerning the circumstances in Davit Kezerashvili’s case." In addition, according to the statement of the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia, the Office is preparing documentation and plans to address Interpol’s General Secretariat with a request to put Mikheil Saakashvili on the international ‘wanted list’ as well as restore Davit Kezerashvili to the list. It should be pointed out that in its statement the Prosecutor’s Office says nothing about any kind of methodological changes having occurred at Interpol. In addition, the Prosecutor’s Office refuses to publish the documentation it possesses about the circumstances upon which Interpol relied when making its decision.

Davit Kezerashvili has been on Interpol’s ‘wanted list’ since 2013 after he was charged with several crimes by the Government of Georgia. In October 2013, Mr Kezerashvili was arrested in France; however, he was released after several months with the French side having refused his extradition to Georgia. French prosecutor, Solange Legrace, told the court that she had “serious doubts” about the demand of extradition and said that she thought it was politically motivated.

According to the statement of lawyer, Levan Alapishvili: "After granting [Kezerashvili] the status of a political refugee, international procedures changed as well which is why Mr Kezerashvili was removed from the 'wanted list.'"  However, the decision of the court that a person is being pursued owing to political motives does not automatically provide for the official status of a political refugee. FactCheck

spoke with Davit Kezerashvili’s lawyer about this issue as well who stated: "Davit Kezerashvili has not had such a status in the past and does not have it today, either. You know that he also has Israeli citizenship. Because of this, he will not be able to receive the status of a political refugee from any third country. Hence, removing his name from a red circular is not connected to his political refugee status, as he simply does not have it."

In his statement, Irakli Gharibashvili also talked about the removal of the former President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, from the ‘wanted list.’ Mr Yanukovych was indeed removed from the list on 21 July 2015; however, whether or not it is a good idea to put this in the context of "certain methodological changes in Interpol" is another topic of discussion. According to a statement

of the attorneys from the Joseph Hage Aaronson Company, who managed to achieve Mr Yanukovych’s removal from the ‘wanted list,’ Interpol used the argument of a politically motivated pursuit in this particular case.

As for the alternative position concerning Viktor Yanukovych, according to the statement

of Interpol’s Ukrainian Bureau, Interpol’s Document Control Commission removed Mr Yanukovych from the ‘wanted list’ only temporarily before his case receives a comprehensive court discussion in September in Lyon, France. None of the sides has stated that the removal of Mr Yanukovych from the ‘wanted list’ was due to any kind of "methodological changes" in Interpol.

FactCheck also contacted Mikheil Saakashvili’s lawyer, Otar Kakhidze. According to Mr Kakhidze, he (Kakhidze) has access to the documentation provided by Interpol but is forbidden from publishing it. In addition, he explained that Interpol’s decision has nothing to do with any methodological changes within the organisation and is based upon the resolutions adopted in 1951, 1984 and 1994. In his conversation with FactCheck,

Mr Kakhidze further stated the main factors upon which Interpol relied when making the decision; namely: politically motivated pursuit, problems concerning pre-trial detention in Georgia and the information received from Paris City Court.

Conclusion The Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice and the Prosecutor’s Office do not explain what kind of methodological changes were the reason for the removal of Davit Kezerashvili from the international ‘wanted list.’ The document adopted by Interpol is not public but lawyers who have access to it deny the role of any kind of changes in Interpol in the final decision and point to specific reasons upon which the document is based. FactCheck

also found that the removal of Mr Kezerashvili from the ‘wanted list’ had nothing to do with his being a political refugee because he does not have this status.

As for Ukraine’s ex-President, Viktor Yanukovych, according to the information we obtained, he was removed from the red circular because of a politically motivated pursuit against him and only temporarily so before his trial in September. Hence, no one (except Irakli Gharibashvili) says anything about Mr Yanukovych’s removal from the ‘wanted list’ due to Interpol’s changes in its methodology. In addition, no massive changes have been made to Interpol’s ‘wanted list’ which means that we are dealing with concrete decisions about certain individuals and not the removal of a certain category of people from the list.

FactCheck concludes that Irakli Gharibashvili’s statement is FALSE.

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