On October 24, Georgia extradited Russian citizen Yaroslav Sumbayev, 28, who has been accused by Moscow of cybercrime and murder, to the Russian Federation.
Although his defense lawyers claimed that Sumbayev will be subject to torture and inhuman treatment once being extradited to Russia, in May 2019, Tbilisi City Court found his extradition admissible. The upper instance courts upheld the ruling.
Sumbayev’s defense lawyers criticized Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani for depriving them of the right to challenge the ruling on “illegal” extradition.
They also claimed that Tsulukiani did not wait for consideration of Sumbayev’s case by the European Court of Human Rights and made a decision “in an accelerated manner,” thus violating Georgian legislation and international obligations.
“This fact is alarming and it should become the basis not only for raising Tea Tsulukiani’s official or political responsibility, but it is a criminal responsibility and what she did is called abuse of power,” Sumbayev’s defense lawyer, Ivane Norakidze told journalists.
Responding to Sumbayev’s defense lawyers, Minister Tsulukiani said at a news briefing on October 24 that she made a decision on Sumbayev’s extradition to Russia on September 30, after Georgian law enforcers found his extradition admissible.
Tsulukiani accused Sumbayev’s defense lawyers of telling the lies and presented a letter sent by ECHR to Soso Baratashvili, one of Sumbayev’s defense lawyers, according to which, as the Justice Minister noted, “the European Court does not think that Sumbayev may be subject to inhuman treatment once being extradited to the Russian Federation.”
“Georgia is not a shelter for potential criminals, no matter which country they are from (including Russia). Georgia may shelter only those persons, who really need a shelter, but it cannot be an oasis for people to get rid of justice in their own countries,” Tsulukiani told reporters.
Commenting on Tsulukiani’s remarks, Ivane Norakidze accused the Justice Minister of lying. He explained that following the September 6 letter from the ECHR, on October 15, the defense lawyers received another letter from the European Court of Human Rights, reading that it did not suspend Sumbayev’s extradition, but launched consideration of the case and will adopt a ruling on extradition in the near future.
Norakidze added that although the Justice Minister was well aware of October 15 letter, she still referred to the previous one, which “is not in force any longer.”
Georgian opposition and civil rights activists are against Sumbayev’s extradition to Russia, citing possibility of torture and inhuman treatment against him in Russia as an argument. On October 18, civil rights activists held a protest rally outside the Justice Ministry demanding not to hand over Sumbayev to Russia.