The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) will announce its decision into a complaint filed by Georgia’s former interior minister, Vano Merabishvili, over his pretrial detention on June 14, the Strasbourg-based court said on Friday.
Merabishvili, secretary general of the opposition UNM party, who was the PM for few months before the UNM was defeated in the 2012 elections, was arrested in May, 2013 and charged with misspending and vote-buying; other set of criminal charges were filed against him later – all of them denied by Merabishvili as politically motivated.
Court in Kutaisi ordered Merabishvili’s pretrial detention on May 22, 2013, and his motion for release was declined four months later, when the court in Kutaisi remanded him in the pretrial detention on September 25, 2013.
Merabishvili was found guilty and sentenced to prison terms in several separate trials. In February, 2014 he was sentenced in two separate cases by the Kutaisi City Court to five years in jail on charges of misspending and vote-buying; in the same month he was sentenced to 4 years and 6 months in jail in connection to the case of breaking up of the protest rally in Tbilisi in May, 2011; and in October, 2014 he was sentenced to 3 years in jail on charges of abuse of power in case related to Sandro Girgvliani murder.
In his application to the Strasbourg-based human right court, Merabishvili claims that court’s decision to place him in the pretrial detention was taken based on unclear legal rules without giving a specific time-limit for the detention; he also argued that this decision lacked reasonable grounds; he also complained that the court rejected his motion for release in September, 2013 without carrying out a proper judicial review of his request.
Merabishvili also alleged in his complaint that initiation of criminal proceedings against him and his arrest were used by the authorities to exclude him from the political life of the country, resulting in the weakening of his opposition UNM party, and preventing him from standing as a candidate in the presidential election, which was held in October, 2013. He also claimed that his persecution continued during the pretrial detention when in December, 2013 he was allegedly removed from his cell and taken for a late-night meeting with then chief prosecutor, Otar Partskhaladze, whom Merabishvili accused of intimidation.