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European Court of Human Rights Rules Against Georgia

Georgia faces another case in ECHR, regarding
extradition of Chechens to Russia.
The Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on April 8 that Tengiz Asanidze, who is currently in custody in Adjarian Autonomy, should be released immediately after 12-year of imprisonment. Asanidze v Georgia was a first case discussed by the ECHR regarding Georgia.

Press release issued by the ECHR Registrar reads, the court decided “unanimously that the Georgian State had to secure the applicant’s release at the earliest possible date.”

“The ECHR has ruled to immediately release Tengiz Asanidze. According to the ECHR decision Georgia should pay 150,000 euro as compensation to Asanidze as soon as possible. And in addition 5,000 euro should be paid to the lawyers of Asanidze within three months,” Giorgi Papuashvili, the Georgian Justice Minister, told a press conference, after the ECHR announced judgment.

Tengiz Asanidze was the mayor of the town of Batumi, Adjarian capital. He was arrested on 4 October 1993 and charged with illegal financial dealings in the Batumi Tobacco Manufacturing Company.

Although he was given a pardon by ex-President Shevardnadze in 1999, and his conviction was quashed by the Georgian Supreme Court, Asanidze still remained in the custody, because of Adjarian leader Aslan Abashidze’s refusal to release him.

In 1994 he was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment and orders were made for the confiscation of his assets. Asanidze was given a pardon by President Shevardnadze in 1999, but was not released by the local authorities of Adjara.

Asanidze appealed the ECHR in 2001 claiming that his detention is unlawful and that he has no effective remedy available from the national courts to secure his release.

“It was the only right decision and I was waiting for this decision,” Tengiz Asanidze told Rustavi 2 television via phone conversation from Adjarian Security Ministry’s jail.

“Tengiz Asanidze demanded 3 million euro as a compensation for being in custody illegally. However, the ECHR reduced the sum, but Georgia will have to pay it anyway,” Maka Gioshvili, one of the lawyers of Asanidze from the Tbilisi-based legal aid group Article 42 of Constitution, told Civil Georgia

Georgian Justice Minister Giorgi Papuashvili said that the compensation for Asanidze will be paid from the state budget. “But after we will pay the state can demand reimbursement of this sum from those persons responsible for illegal detention of Asanidze,” Giorgi Papuashvili said.

He said that this refers first of all “to the leadership of the Adjarian Autonomy.” “Including Adjarian leader [Aslan Abashidze], Adjarian Security Minister and everyone who prevented release of Asanidze despite Georgian President’s pardon and decision of Georgian Supreme Court,” Giorgi Papuashvili added.

“Everyone who will hinder enforcement of the decision will be punished,” he added.

President Saakashvili also warned Adjarian leader Aslan Abashidze not to defy the central authorities demand and release Asanidze.

“Tengiz Asanidze is in custody with violations of all legal procedures. I categorically demand Aslan Abashidze to release him. If he does not do it, we will arrive in Batumi and release him,” Saakashvili warned Abashidze on April 7.

Georgia faces another case in the ECHR. After a hearing on 16 September 2003, the ECHR declared admissible the application lodged by 13 Chechens, which claim that extradition of five their compatriots was illegal. Georgian border guards arrested group of 13 men near the Chechen border in the late summer of 2002. Five of them were forcibly extradited to Russia.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian)


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