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Georgia Ordered To Pay Compensation To Jailed Ex-PM Merabishvili

Former Georgian Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili (file photo)

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that Georgia violated the rights of former Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili, who was jailed on charges that he ordered the beating of a Georgian lawmaker in 2005.

In a decision issued on November 28, the ECHR found that Georgian authorities violated Merabishvili's rights during his pretrial detention, and ordered the country to pay him 4,000 euros ($4,800) in respect of nonpecuniary damages.

The Strasbourg-based court said "it had not been established that Mr Merabishvili’s pretrial detention had principally been meant to remove him from Georgia's political scene.”

There has been no violation of the European Convention on Human Rights with regard to his initial placement in pretrial detention, it also said.

However, the court ruled that "at least from 25 September 2013 onwards, his pretrial detention had ceased to be based on sufficient grounds.”

It said that, while in the beginning the purpose of the restriction of Merabishvili's right to liberty had been "the investigation of offences based on a reasonable suspicion, later on the predominant purpose became to obtain information" about the death in 2005 of the former Prime Minister of Georgia Zurab Zhvania and the foreign bank accounts of the former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili.

Merabishvili in September 2016 was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison on charges of ordering the beating of Georgian lawmaker Valery Gelashvili.

Merabishvili was interior minister at the time Gelashvili was assaulted.

On November 1, Georgia's Supreme Court upheld a February decision of the Tbilisi Court of Appeals that rejected Merabishvili's appeal against the conviction.

Merabishvili is a close ally of Saakashvili and a key figure in Georgia's 2003 Rose Revolution.

Saakashvili, who is currently in Ukraine, is being investigated separately in the Gelashvili case. Saakashvili has been charged by authorities in Tbilisi with instructing Merabishvili to order the assault on Gelashvili.

Supporters of Merabishvili and Saakashvili say the charges against them are politically motivated and amount to a "witch-hunt" by Georgia's current government.

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