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At the plenary session of the Parliament of Georgia, the United National Movement MP, Vakhtang Lemonjava, stated: "Mr Sinauridze, suspected in Levan Kortava’s sadistic murder, has been released from prison upon the basis of bail in exchange for a false testimony against Bacho Akhalaia. This proves that the Prosecutor’s Office is occupied with implementing selective justice."

The name of Malkhaz Sinauridze is connected with several resonant criminal cases in the past few years. The Prosecutor’s Office first took interest in him during the 2006 prison mutiny case. At that time he occupied the position of the director of the prison hospital. Later, Mr Sinaurdize’s name began circulating around prisoner Levan Kortava’s murder case (2013).

Malkhaz Sinauridze worked in the penitentiary system from 2000 to 2008, occupying various positions. After the 2012 Parliamentary elections, he became the head of Geguti Prison No. 14. The United National Movement linked his return to the penitentiary system to political motives as well as his subsequent signing of a pledge with the Prosecutor’s Office about the Kortava case. Specifically, they were speaking about the 2006 prison mutiny case investigation when Mr Sinauridze changed his initial testimony against Bacho Akhalaia.

In his 2007 testimony for the investigation, he named the prisoners; notably, the thieves-in-law, as the organisers of the mutiny. In 2012, however, after the Parliamentary elections, he changed his testimony and accused Bacho Akhalaia of organising the mutiny (in that period, Mr Akhalaia held the position of the head of the Law Enforcement Department). According to the information available to us, Mr Sinauridze was appointed to the position of the head of the Geguti prison a week after he changed his testimony.

On 13 May 2013, the Prosecutor’s Office commenced proceedings against Malkhaz Sinauridze as well as others in the case of the death of Levan Kortava by multiple injuries in Geguti Prison No. 14. The Office accused him of covering up the crime based upon Article 375 of the Criminal Code of Georgia which, in the given case, manifested itself in falsifying evidence and not reacting in a timely manner. Later, Mr Sinauridze, who held the position of the director of Geguti Prison No. 14 at the moment of Mr Kortava’s death, was released based upon a GEL 5,000 pledge after he confessed to having committed the crime of which he was accused.

As of today, Malkhaz Sinauridze, currently in the United States of America, is being pursued by the Prosecutor’s Office in connection with Levan Kortava’s murder case. In his interview with the media, Mr Sinauridze stated that he went abroad legally, notifying the Prosecutor’s Office prior to departure. It is possible that the pledge agreement did not deprive him of the right to temporarily leave the country. According to Article 200 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia, in the case of first meeting all of the obligatory needs, it is the discretion of the Prosecutor’s Office to determine the terms of the pledge. Hence, leaving the country temporarily by the accused does not contradict the legislation.

It should also be noted that Mr Sinauridze stated that the government pressured him to confess to the crime of which he was accused. He accused the Chairman of the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee of the Parliament of Georgia, Eka Beselia, and the former Deputy General Prosecutor, Lasha Natsvlishvili, of pressuring him. Both of these individuals refrained from commenting upon the accusation. Mr Sinauridze states that the reasons why he is not back in Georgia are his health and financial problems but says that he is ready to cooperate with investigative structures from a distance. None of these structures have answered his proposal so far.

Conclusion FactCheck’s

study found that Vakhtang Lemonjava’s statement includes several incorrect details. It is important to note that Malkhaz Sinauridze has not been accused of the murder of Levan Kortava but rather of covering up the crime. In exchange for his confession to the crime, he was offered a pledge agreement.

The possibility of the existence of political motives around the prison mutiny case cannot be excluded. Mr Sinauridze’s appointment as the director of Geguti Prison No. 14 just weeks after he changed his testimony against Bacho Akhalaia in 2012 and the pledge agreement offered to him concerning the Kortava case do indeed raise some suspicions. Mr Sinauridze’s statement in which he talks about the pressure from representatives of the government should also be taken into account.

FactCheck addressed the Prosecutor’s Office with appropriate questions but failed to get answers this time as well. Despite this, FactCheck is, of course, unable to say whether or not Malkhaz Sinauridze did indeed give a false testimony and how adequate the Prosecutor’s Office’s actions were about this issue. Hence, we leave Vakhtang Lemonjava’s statement WITHOUT VERDICT.