Acquitted for New Year

Tbilisi courthouse

In 2020 Mkurnali defended 37 cases.  Twelve of these young people, who faced probable conviction were found completely innocent thanks to our lawyer’s intervention.  Twelve received a suspended sentence, and the others were all given much-reduced sentences.  We have the story of one of these cases for you today. 

Mamuka has served a sentence for theft before, but since his release he has changed dramatically.  He has married, had a child, trained as a heating installer and worked very hard.  One day, when he was shopping at his usual grocery store he was arrested again for theft.  Had Mkurnli not been able to confirm his alibi, he would now be facing four years in prison for something he did not do.

Mamuka had the misfortune to be wearing the same distinctive jacket as the thief.   The CCTV didn’t clearly show the thief’s face, but this co-incidence combined with Mamuka’s previous conviction was enough for the police.

When Mkurnali’s lawyer arrived at the prosecutor’s office, Mamuka was offered a fine rather than imprisonment in return for a guilty plea. He was adamant that he wouldn’t plead guilty for something he didn’t do, so Mkurnali set about building a defence. The lawyer found out that around the time of the crime, Mamuka had stayed at his sister Marta’s place for two days to install a heating system. She remembered that on the day of the crime, they both went to a nearby hypermarket to buy supplies for the installation.

A sister’s statement didn’t count for anything, since she was family. The prosecutor’s office denied access to the hypermarket CCTV, because they believed they had enough evidence to send the case to court. The hypermarket wouldn’t co-operate without a court order.

Fortunately, during the trial, Marta remembered an interaction they had had at the hypermarket with a local woman. Marta only knew her first name and had no address, but Mkurnali managed to track her down. She easily remembered the siblings and the date, since she had been shopping for her grandson’s birthday. She had asked Mamuka to try on a T-shirt, since he was a similar build to her grandson. This woman’s testimony was enough to get hold of the CCTV.

The CCTV and the evidence of two witnesses was enough to confirm Mamuka’s alibi. He was acquitted on December 30th and celebrated the New Year at home with his family.