At this stage more adequate step would be release of Merabishvili but not an investigation
 Tbilisi 13:49 - 21.06.16 «GHN»
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The members of the United National Movement consider that, at this stage staring an investigation into the fact of Merabishvili's removal from the prison at night and his unlawful interrogation inadequate is, as now it is too late to do this. Levan Tarkhnishvili, member of the UNM stated that regarding the Strasbourg Court decision more adequate step would be unconditional release of Vano Merabishvili.
"This absolutely inadequate reaction is to the Strasbourg Court decision. This would be normal and adequate two years ago. But today the adequate reaction from the government would be unconditional release of Vano Merabishvli, as well all other prisoners of conscience. What about Otar Partskhaladze, being back then Chief Public Prosecutor, he, no doubt must be questioned. But this is not sufficient response to the Strasbourg Court decision, "- Tarkhnishvili stated.

The Chief Public Prosecutor's Office started an investigation concerning the question of late night removal from the prison of Vano Merabishvili ex-Prime Minister.

Based on the Strasbourg Court decision on June 14 of 2016 the Chief Public Prosecutor's Office of Georgia started an investigation on the fact of possible abuse of power by the public officials under the Article 333 part I of the GCC. The Office informed today.

To be noted the judgment of the Strasbourg Court of Human Rights concerning this fact gives the following information:

D. The applicant's alleged removal from prison on 14 December2013 and the subsequent proceedings

34. According to the applicant's addendum to the case file after the communication of the present case, on 14 December 2013, at approximately 1.30 a.m., he was unexpectedly removed from his prison cell. The accompanying prison guards covered his head with a jacket, put him into a car, and drove him to an unknown destination. The journey lasted some ten minutes, after which he was escorted into a building. When he was brought inside one of the rooms the guards took the jacket off his head, and he saw two people. One of them was allegedly the Chief Public Prosecutor, O.P., and the other was the head of the prison authority, D.D.

35. According to the applicant, the Chief Prosecutor offered him a bargain during that meeting. Notably, the applicant was invited to reveal the "truth" about the circumstances surrounding the death of the former Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania on 3 February 2005 (who, according to an official version of the events, had died in a rented flat from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by an inadequately ventilated gas heater) and, in addition, to provide information about secret offshore bank accounts of the former President of Georgia. The applicant turned down the deal, describing O.P.'s suggestions as a conspiracy theory and nonsense. In reply, the Chief Prosecutor allegedly threatened the applicant that his detention conditions would worsen if he did not agree to cooperate with the authorities. The applicant was returned to his prison cell at around 3 a.m.

36. On 17 December 2013, during a public hearing before the Tbilisi City Court, which was already examining the merits of the criminal case against the applicant in the presence of the prosecuting authority and media representatives, the applicant made a statement about what had happened on 14 December 2013. He described in detail his night-time conversation with the Chief Public Prosecutor.

37. On the same day the Prime Minister of Georgia publicly commented that the applicant's allegations of the night removal from prison for a meeting with the Chief Prosecutor were a sheer lie, that no investigation would be launched in that respect, and that the applicant should instead "consult a psychiatrist". Subsequently, paraphrasing another public person's comment, the Prime Minster made the following remark: "After all, what was this story of abducting [the applicant] from the prison all about? Did the Chief Public Prosecutor] rape him or what?'" In the same vein, the Chief Public Prosecutor's Office issued an official statement condemning the applicant's allegations as "untrue" and "absurd".

38. On 18 December 2013 the Minister of Prisons publicly stated that "[the applicant] was not taken out of the prison ... No investigation has been launched into such frivolous allegations." The Minister added that recordings made by the prison surveillance systems, which could shed light on whether or not the latter had been taken out of and returned to his cell at the specified times on 14 December 2013, could be made public only if a criminal probe was launched in respect of the applicant's allegation.

39. On the other hand, certain other high State officials, such as the President of the Parliament and the Minister of Justice, acknowledged, in the immediate aftermath of the incident of 14 December 2013, that there was a need to launch a thorough and impartial criminal investigation into the issue. On 19 December 2013 the Public Defender of Georgia visited the applicant in prison, where they discussed in detail the incident of 14 December 2013. After the meeting, the Defender made a public statement about the necessity to launch a criminal investigation in order to clarify all the facts, and emphasized that the applicant would be ready to cooperate.

40. On 20 December 2013 the applicant made a formal request to the Ministry of Prisons, of which the Chief Public Prosecutor's Office and the Tbilisi City Court were also informed, for the video footage from the prison surveillance system covering the night of 14 December 2013 to be provided to his lawyer. Those recordings would prove the need for a criminal investigation into his unlawful removal from the prison on that night.

41. On 15 January 2014 the Public Defender again called upon the authorities to investigate the applicant's allegations. On the same day the Minister of Prisons stated that the recordings from the surveillance system of the applicant's prison covering the night of 14 December 2003 could no longer be extracted as they had automatically been deleted within twenty-four hours after being recorded.

42. On 6 March 2014 the applicant submitted a question to the Chief Public Prosecutor's Office about whether or not a criminal investigation had been launched into the incident of 14 December 2013. On 14 April 2014 the prosecutorial authority informed the applicant that an internal probe carried out by the General Inspection Unit of the Ministry of Prisons had not confirmed the applicant's alleged irregular removal from the prison. No further details about that probe were given.

43. On 10 May 2014 a Member of Parliament published certain documents showing that high bonuses were paid in December 2013 to a number of officers of the prison where the applicant was detained. The parliamentarian suggested that those officers were financially rewarded for their association with the applicant's removal from the cell.

 



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