On 4 October 2019, the Public Defender of Georgia filed an amicus curiae brief with the Tbilisi Court of Appeal in connection with the criminal case of the murder of Vitali Saparov. The Public Defender, as a mechanism to combat discrimination, made such a
On 4 October 2019, the Public Defender of Georgia filed an amicus curiae brief with the Tbilisi Court of Appeal in connection with the criminal case of the murder of Vitali Saparov. The Public Defender, as a mechanism to combat discrimination, made such a decision as the case included alleged hate motive. In the amicus curiae brief, the Public Defender discussed the indicators of hate motive based on standards established by international institutions, as well as the importance of identification of such motive.
The Public Defender noted that hate crime, which is motivated by prejudice about certain characteristics of the victim, is an act prohibited by criminal law. The Public Defender also emphasized the commitment of the state to take all measures to determine whether the crime was committed on the ground of race and to determine whether the victim's ethnicity played a role in the development of the events.
According to the Tbilisi City Court, the murder of Vitali Saparov was not committed on the ground of national intolerance, but was rather a result of a conflict following an argument, which led to physical confrontation and murder of the ethnic non-Georgian citizen. The Public Defender mentioned a mixed motive based on the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, according to which, hate crime may not be based solely on the characteristics of the victim. Perpetrators may have mixed motives, namely they may be influenced by a particular situation, as well as by prejudice against the group to which the victim belongs.1
Since the court of first instance relied on the case of Nachova in its judgment, the Public Defender explained that according to the decision of the Grand Chamber of the European Court, when force is used against ethnic minority and when racist remarks are made, these factors should be paid due attention to outline the alleged hate motive and that the European Court of Human Rights found violation of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) in conjunction with Article 2 (right to life)2, because the state failed to pay due attention to the words used during the commission of the crime.
The Tbilisi City Court also explained that the defendants' prejudice against other nations did not prove that the murder was committed on the ground of national intolerance and that their religious belief and opinions were not subject to judicial review. In this regard, the Public Defender noted in the amicus curiae brief that according to the standards of international law, the personal characteristics and words used by the defendants were of great importance when identifying the hate motive. When identifying the hate motive, the European Court of Human Rights always takes into account racist statements and the fact whether attackers are members of an ultra-right organization, which is, in its essence, an extremist ideology.3
In order to establish a uniform practice, the Public Defender called on the Court of Appeal to assess whether the indicators of hate motive established by international law were apparent. In particular, it should be checked how correctly were assessed the importance of the defendants’ ideology and the symbolism used by them, as well as the words used during the commission of the crime.
1ECtHR, Skorjanec v. Croatia, no. 25536/14, 28/03/2017, § 55; Balazs v. Hungary, no. 15529/12, 20/10/2015, § 70
2ECtHR, Nachova and others v. Bulgaria [GC], nos. 43577/98, 43579/98, 06/07/2005, § 168
3ECtHR, Milanovic v. Serbia, no. 44614/07, 14/12/2010, § 98