Strasbourg Court vent on Merabishvili case
 Tbilisi 18:12 - 14.06.16 «GHN»
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The official press release on case Merabishvili v. Georgia was published today at the official web page of the Court. As the Court of Human Rights stated today pre-trial detention of former PM of Georgia was lawful and based on reasonable grounds but was also used as a means to exert pressure on him.

In today's Chamber judgment in the case of Merabishvili v. Georgia concerning the pre-trial detention of a former Prime Minister of Georgia, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:


no violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention on Human Rights as concerned the lawfulness of the court decisions of 22 and 25 May 2013 ordering Mr Merabishvili's pre-trial detention;

no violation of Article 5 § 3 (entitlement to trial within a reasonable time or to release pending trial) of the Convention as concerned the grounds for the court decisions of 22 and 25 May 2013 ordering Mr Merabishvili's pre-trial detention;

a violation of Article 5 § 3 as concerned the court decision of 25 September 2013 reviewing
Mr Merabishvili's pre-trial detention; and,

a violation of Article 18 (limitation on use of restrictions on rights) taken in conjunction with
Article 5 § 1 on account of the fact that Mr Merabishvili's pre-trial detention had also been used by the prosecuting authorities as an opportunity to obtain leverage in another unrelated investigation,namely into the death of the former Prime Minister, Zurab Zhvania, and to conduct an enquiry intothe financial activities of the former President of Georgia

The Court found a violation of Article 18 (limitation on use of restrictions on rights). As the Court stated: The decision to detain Mr Merabishvili had to be seen in the broader political context and in particular of his high political profile at the time. Moreover, many international observers, including various high-ranking political leaders of foreign States and international organisations, had expressed concerns over the p o s s I b l e use of criminal proceedings against Mr Merabishvili for an improper, hidden political agenda on the part of the regime.

That general political context aside, however, the Court looked at the concrete facts of the case and more particularly the incident of 14 December 2013, when Mr Merabishvili had, according to his submissions, been removed from his prison cell for a late-night meeting with the Chief Public Prosecutor and the head of the prison authority.

Therefore the Court found that Mr Merabishvili's pre-trial detention had been used not only for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority on reasonable suspicion of abuse of official authority and other offences in public office with which he had been charged, but had also been treated by the prosecuting authority as an additional opportunity to obtain leverage in another unrelated investigation, namely into the death of the former Prime Minister, Zurab Zhvania, and to conduct an enquiry into the financial activities of the former President of Georgia, two aims wholly extraneous to the European Convention. Indeed, the prospect of detention could not be used as a means of exerting moral pressure on an accused. There had accordingly been a violation of Article 18 of the Convention taken in conjunction with Article 5 § 1.

Under the Article 41 - Just satisfaction The Court held that Georgia was to pay Mr Merabishvili 4,000 euros (EUR) in respect of nonpecuniary damage and EUR 8,000 for costs and expenses.

 



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