The Cable Guys


Where is that cherished rule of law?

The other day, I heard a question on my local radio station ‘Should the President pardon the Cable Case convicts?’. The question was meant for us, the listeners, to answer in one of those interactive talk-shows.

The ‘Cable Case’ refers to five officials of the Ministry of Defence of Georgia who were arrested due to misspending government funds in negotiating a contract with the Silknet company. The deal was valued at a significantly higher amount than its true worth, the MoD employees then allegedly pocketing the difference for themselves. The case grew into a real cause célèbre, and finally resulted in the sentencing of the culprits to seven years of imprisonment.

When I heard the question while at the wheel, I wanted to pull the car over to dial the station and provide the animated host of the show with my own answer. Then, on second thoughts, it crossed my mind that I had no way of answering the question. No listeners would.

Nobody could, besides those who were directly involved in the case, such as the judges, lawyers, prosecutors, state officials and the condemned defense personnel themselves – and even then there would be no guarantee that the answers would be fair and unbiased.

In fact, the question sounded totally unfair if it was addressed to us the listeners, because we the people are not versed enough in the matter to have the answer to this tricky and inconvenient question. How could we give a fair answer? Are we familiar with the bulky documentation of it? Have we listened to every session of the trial?

On the other hand, why should I know things like this in general? Why am I expected to have knowledge of a court case’s contents unless I am personally interested in the developments? And if these questions of mine are fair enough to pose, then the question asked on the radio was utterly unfair and irrelevant, cajoling us, the unsuspecting folksy listeners, into providing society and the President, if you will, with answers that might cause an expected blunder.

Some of the answers I heard were radically cruel towards the victims; some of them sounded simply off the limits of sanity; some wanted heavier sentences for the convicts, while some of them demanded that the President should not hesitate to declare the immediate freedom of the convicted. How can a question like this and the answers like those help our society to mature and be better? Or is it all just for entertainment’s sake? There are so many other subjects out there for amusement to take up and go ahead with if a journalist is in that kind of mood and business.

A bigger and more important problem for discussion is the case itself. As I said, I will never know the truth of this despondently celebrated event. Even if Lady Justice triumphs and the case happily becomes part of history, the feeling of uncertainty will always be present whether the indictment and verdict were fair or not. And this is happening to us only because the logic of reasonable doubt towards court rulings as such has been perpetuated in our judicial culture and our minds, which could be rendered as a dominant predicament on the way of this nation’s democratic future. It is said that the courts have become fairer and more independent, but it is also recognized that the court system in Georgia still leaves a lot to desire in terms of its autonomous functionality and self-governance.

Notwithstanding the change, our citizens’ uncertainty towards court decisions persists, which could practically be equaled to the malfunction of our judicial system. We the people are losing the feeling that our court system is a bastion of fairness and morality which warrants absolute trust and reliance. In reality, the system is on the verge of collapse. Just imagine a Europe and America where people have no confidence in the rulings made by judges. They will never be able to continue functioning if people in the West stop believing in the courts. In today’s Georgia, people tend to disagree with court rulings, or with prosecutors’ decisions, or with governmental decrees and amendments to the constitution. We have found ourselves perpetually objecting to everything.

If this is not true, why have we grown into the witnesses of discussions of the topic on an everyday basis? Both the media and private conversations are full of opinions on how our court system needs to become fair and independent. This cannot be the smoke without fire.

Nugzar Ruhadze

26 May 2016 14:51