The Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) of Ukraine is examining Georgia’s request for the extradition of former Georgian president and governor of Odessa Mikheil Saakashvili, announced Ukrainian Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko.
“After receiving this [extradition] request [from Georgia], all the materials were sent to the bodies of the PGO in order to carry out an extradition check. This is a preliminary stage. If it is completed with a positive conclusion, it will be possible to adopt further procedures to deal with the matter in clear accordance with the law,” Petrenko said at a press briefing in Kiev on Tuesday, when asked by reporters what the Justice Ministry would do about the extradition request.
“As of today, the materials have been transferred by the Ministry of Justice to the organs of the PGO… In this regard, since we do not yet have conclusions or documents, we can say that it has not yet been completed,” the justice minister said.
Petrenko said that according to Ukrainian legislation, the state organ which makes the final decision regarding the extradition request depends on the stage which the consideration of the criminal case is at.
“If the case is being considered at the pretrial investigation stage, then the final extradition decision is made by the prosecutor’s office, in our case, the PGO. If the case is being considered at the court case stage, that is, if in the country requesting the extradition information the matter has already been taken to court, the final decision is made by the justice organs,” the head of the Justice Ministry explained.
He drew attention to the fact that regardless of these aspects, Ukrainian legislation requires an extradition check procedure, which is done by the PGO organs.
Earlier Sergiy Petukhov, Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Justice for European Integration, said that the Ukrainian Justice Ministry had received a request from the Main PGO of Georgia for Saakashvili’s arrest and extradition: “Ukraine received a request to hunt, arrest and extradite Mikheil Saakashvili. The Georgian Main PGO’s request was addressed to the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice and the Ukrainian PGO”.
Petukhov pointed out that according to the Main PGO of Georgia, Saakashvili is the accused in four criminal proceedings, initiated according to the relevant articles of the Georgian Criminal Code: art. 182, which envisages responsibility for appropriation, embezzlement or seizure of another’s property through misuse of an official position, carried out according to the advance conspiracy of a group of entities on a large scale; art. 333 and art. 117 – misuse of an official position, through violence or use of a weapon; s. 2 art. 332 – misuse of an official position.
The deputy justice minister noted that by the ruling of a judge from the Criminal Cases Panel of the Tbilisi City Court, arrest was chosen as a measure of restraint for Saakashvili.
In connection with Saakashvili’s avoidance of appearance and unknown whereabouts, he was placed on the wanted list on 4 August 2014.
Petukhov announced that the Main Georgian PGO gave the Ukrainian PGO its guarantee that this request was not made in order to prosecute Saakashvili for political reasons, and that Saakashvili would not be made accountable for crimes not envisaged by the request, handed over to a third country, and his rights would not be violated.
“In accordance with the criminal procedural legislation, the Ministry of Justice is forwarding a request received from Georgia, and the relevant material, 94 pages, to the PGO of Ukraine to carry out an extradition check,” the deputy minister said.