Free Mariana, a 22 year old Georgian lawyer sentenced to 7 years imprisonment
Save Mariana, a 22 year old Georgian lawyer sentenced to 7 years imprisonment.
22 year old lawyer jailed for 7 years – for 100 dollars.
What lawyer hasn’t had to deal with a disgruntled client saying something like “I paid my lawyer’s fees but he did nothing”?
In the case of Mariana Ivelashvili, a 22 year old Georgian lawyer, this complaint went a lot further – she ended up being sentenced to to seven years in prison.
A mere 15 days after being admitted to practice as a lawyer, Mariana Ivelashvili accepted instructions from a woman who claimed she wanted her son’s criminal record expunged. Mariana accepted a 100 dollar retainer from her client. She then filed the necessary application with the local criminal court, which dismissed the application. Her client, furious with the result, filed a complaint against her.
The next thing that happened was that Mariana Ivelashvili was arrested, imprisoned and sentenced to a staggering seven year sentence, in a kangaroo court trial. She is currently serving her sentence at the Mtsiziri women's prison.
The reader will have picket up straight away that the client’s complaint was merely a pretext. The real explanation is the local prosecutor’s longstanding enmity towards the Ivelashvili family; the mother of Mariana Ivelashvili is a lawyer, and her father a former judge. This same prosecutor also had the brother of Mariana Ivelashvili arrested. Mariana Ivelashvili had the audacity to petition, unsuccessfully, for the release of her brother.
It’s not a good idea to be a lawyer in Georgia these days. More than a hundred lawyers are currently in prison, many more than was the case in the communist era.
The President of the Georgian Bar has raised this matter with the CCBE (European Bar Council), an organization which represents 900,000 European lawyers. The International Observatory of Lawyers ( set up by the French National Bar Council, its Italian and Spanish counterparts and Avocats sans Frontières) sent a delegation to look into these events. The delegation found proof of widespread existence of rights violations for Georgian lawyers, as well as evidence of persecution.
The CCBE President, the President of the Paris and the French Bar and many European bars have written the Georgian authorities to ask for the grace of Mariana Ivelashvili – to no avail.
For now, Mariana Ivelashvili remains trapped.
This is why we are appealing to everyone to support Mariana Ivelashvili and secure her release. If you want to help, please write to your national authorities and Georgian authorities at the addresses below, and send us a copy of your letters, by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
You can also sign this online petition:
Help us to free Mariana!
For more information, see:
-International Observatory of Lawyers
-Video made by the Georgian Bar on Ivelashvili case: http://ijp.ge/video_blank.php?vid=178.
-Article published in the French Bar magazine ( http://cnb.avocat.fr/file/112315/ ) (page 20).