EHRAC advising former Georgian PM and former Tbilisi mayor in Strasbourg cases complaining of politically-motivated proceedings

Published: 16 Jan 2015

EHRAC is advising on two cases against Georgia at the European Court of Human Rights concerning criminal proceedings brought against Ivane Merabishvili, the former Georgian Prime Minister, and Giorgi Ugulava, the former Mayor of Tbilisi. Both belong to the opposition United National Movement (UNM) party. Their arrests, along with many other senior party figures, took place after the Georgian Dream coalition won the 2012 parliamentary elections. The applicants in both cases are being represented by EHRAC, based at Middlesex University, and partner lawyers in Georgia. Mr Ugulava’s application was submitted in late December 2014, when observations in reply to the Government were also submitted in Mr Merabishvili’s case.

In both cases it is argued that their arrest and subsequent detention were unlawful, and that the criminal proceedings are politically motivated (in violation of Article 18 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)[1]).

Since late 2012, criminal proceedings have been instigated against a number of former government representatives from the UNM party, including the former President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Minister of Justice, Zurab Adeishvili, the former Ministers of Defence Bacho Akhalaia and Davit Kezerashvili, the former ambassador to the Council of Europe and Minister of Health, Labour and Social issues, Zurab Chiaberashvili,  the former Chief of United Staff of the Ministry of Defence, Giorgi Kalandadze, the former head of state security, Data Akhalaia and the former Deputy Chief Prosecutor, Nika Gvaramia. Numerous statements expressing concern about  prosecutions of UNM members, after the victory of the Georgian Dream party in the October 2012 Parliamentary elections, have been made by the international community, including the Secretary General of NATO, the President of the EU Commission, the US Secretary of the State and many others.

Ivane Merabishvili

Mr. Merabishvili was the Georgian Prime Minister under President Mikheil Saakashvili between 30 June 2012 and 11 October 2012, and was formerly Minister of Interior.  He later became the Secretary-General of UNM. On 21 May 2013, Mr. Merabishvili was arrested on charges of misspending GEL 5.2 million of public funds. A series of other charges followed, which have subsequently led to several convictions. Mr. Merabishvili argues that his arrest and subsequent detention was unlawful. He relies on  Article 5.1, 5.3 and 5.4 of the ECHR, as well as Article 18, on the basis that the criminal proceedings brought against him were politically motivated.

Giorgi Ugulava

Mr. Ugulava became the first directly elected Mayor of Tbilisi on 30 May 2010. He was arrested on 3 July 2014, while acting as a campaign manager for the UNM opposition party. Under Article 5.1 of the ECHR, Mr. Ugulava alleges a violation of his right to liberty, and that his arrest and detention were unlawful and politically motivated. Moreover, he argues that the lack of reasonable justification for his detention amounts to a violation of Article 5.3, and that he was not given immediate access to his lawyer following his arrest, in violation of Article 5.4. His application also cites Article 18 in conjunction with Article 5 – his arrest came just ten days before the mayoral elections.

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Note: In October 2014, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution on ‘The functioning of democratic institutions in Georgia

[1] Article 18 of the European Convention on Human Rights states: ‘The restrictions permitted under this Convention to the said rights and freedoms shall not be applied for any purpose other than those for which they have been prescribed’.