21 June 2012 Tbilisi City Court Criminal Case Board satisfied Georgian Prosecutor’s Office petition and put a lien on Global Contact Consulting LLC TV-broadcasting technical means (antennas, receivers, receiver heads.) Putting a lien on the property was based on the criminal investigation underway on the alleged facts of bribing of voters by certain persons by means of Global Contact Consulting LLC antennas and receivers. Prosecutor’s office claims that despite the request from the Chamber of Control of Georgia the Global Contact Consulting LLC, certain individuals still continued handover of satellite antennas to voters for their support to a political entity. Court decided that technical means intended for TV-broadcasting of the Company are the property which are used for criminal act, namely bribing of voters and due to that lien was put on those technical means.
We believe that on one hand the State is obliged to take effective measures for fighting against crime, although, the given process must be conducted by permanent consideration of the principle of justice and requirements of the law. Additionally, the State is obliged to be especially careful when possible restrictions concern media sphere.
We believe 21 June 2012 City Court Criminal Case Board verdict on putting a lien was made by violation of procedures set forth by the Criminal Procedural Law due to following circumstances:
• 151th Article of the Criminal Procedural Law determines basis for putting lien on property according to which for insuring possible confiscation of property Court has a right, based on an appeal from a party to put a lien on defendant’s property, or property of person materially responsible for his actions and/or a person related to the defendant. As the criminal proceedings have been launched on the fact of bribing of voters and there is no defendant person, as the one who committed crime, the Court verdict on putting a lien on property was the violation of the Criminal Procedural Law;
• Part 2 of the Article 151 of the Criminal Procedural Law determines that putting lien is also used in case of one of the crimes regulated by the Georgian Criminal Code articles 323, 330 and 3311. In the specific case the 2nd Part of the aforementioned Article cannot be used as basis for putting lien as bribing of voters by category is a less serious crime and not serious crime, in case of which it is possible to put a lien;
• We also believe that Article 112 of the Georgian Criminal Procedural Law has also been violated as investigative action that limits private property, ownership, or privacy must be carried out based on Court verdict, while in case of immediate necessity it can be done without Court verdict, although by decision of an investigator. Investigative actions are being conducted at Elita Burji LLC owned premises and despite the fact that both private property and ownership have been limited (Global Contact Consulting LLC rents certain premises from Elita Burji LLC) there was no Court verdict, or investigator’s decree prepared based on legislation;
As media and especially TV-media bears significant role in providing information to public and the right for receiving and circulating information is insured by the Georgian Constitution, all the restrictions that can affect freedom of expression must be based on legislation and be based on right of expression, media pluralism and fair assessment of good protected by criminal law. Considering all the above mentioned we call on the investigative bodies to act according to the principles of justice when conducting their activities and to act according to the requirements of the law.