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Labor Party Claims Over EUR 2 bln in ECHR Case against Georgia

The Labor Party has demanded in its case against Georgia in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) compensation  to the amount of EUR 2 billion for non-pecuniary damages, described as ?being expelled? from the parliament as a result of electoral irregularities in the March 28, 2004 elections.

A public hearing on the Labor Party?s application was held in the Strasbourg-based court on September 4. The judgment of the Chamber, which also includes a Georgian judge, Mindia Ugrekhelidze, will be delivered at a later, unspecified, date, according to the ECHR.

?The Labor Party has suffered sever harassment, repression, discrimination on the grounds of its political opinion, particularly after the Rose Revolution. The Labor Party was excluded from the Parliament for at least the last four years,? Johanna Rinceanu, a lawyer speaking at the hearing on behalf of the Labor Party, said.

The political standoff between the central authorities and then Adjarian leader, Aslan Abashidze, prevented the holding of the elections on March 28 in two electoral districts in the autonomous republic ? Kobuleti and Khulo. The vote was rescheduled for April 18, but polling stations failed to open, depriving around 60,000 voters of their right to cast a ballot.

On the same day, April 18, the Georgian Central Election Commission, chaired by Zurab Tchiaberashvili (now Georgia?s envoy to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg), finalized nation-wide election results, disregarding the two districts in Adjara. The Labor Party received 6.01%, while 7% was needed to clear the electoral threshold.

The Labor Party’s case posits that the March 28, 2004 parliamentary elections were in breach of Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which upholds the right to free elections.

In respect of pecuniary damages, the Labor Party claimed compensation to the amount of EUR 138,100 for election campaign expenses and a further EUR 23,300 in legal costs both in Georgia and Strasbourg.

In addition, the Labor Party claims EUR 74,180 should be paid to the party for the period of 2007-2008 in accordance to the electoral law. The state budget should allocate certain amount of money to the party which has overcome the 7% threshold and obtained seats in the parliament.

Shalva Natelashvili, the leader of the Labor Party, attended the public hearing in Strasbourg.

?This is a historic day, because the shameful and disgraceful deeds of our authorities have become a matter of international discussion,? he told a small group of supporters at an improvised rally outside the ECHR after the hearings.

Guram Chalagashvili, who held the position of chairman of the Central Election Commission until August 31, was also in Strasbourg to represent the state at the hearing.

?The Labor Party?s claim is absolutely groundless,? Chalagashvili said after the hearing. ?We have enough evidence to rebuff the Labor Party?s case. I am sure we will win it.”

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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