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ECHR Ruling Prompts Calls for Probe Against UNM-Era-Prosecutor-Turned-Judge

An Independent Group of Lawyers called for an investigation into the role of then-prosecutor Vasil Roinishvili, who now serves as Constitutional Court Justice, in the case of 2008 murder of a Georgian armed forces officer Roin Shavadze, after the European Court of Human Right (ECHR) judgement found Georgia in violation of the right to life.

The group, comprising of some of the notorious Georgian lawyers, recalled that Vasil Roinishvili, head of the Prosecutor’s Office of Adjara region in 2006-08, was tasked with investigating the killing of Shavadze at the hands of Interior Ministry law enforcers.

“Despite demands for numerous times, the victim [Shavadze’s wife] was not granted civil-party status and access to the files in the case,” the Independent Lawyers stated, adding that Roinishvili instead allegedly attempted to pressure her into silence.

Roinishvili, who pursued his career as Supreme Court Justice during 2009-2019 after serving years as a prosecutor under the United National Movement administration, was picked in May 2020 by the Supreme Court of Georgia as a Constitutional Court Justice for a 10-year term. The move was decried by civil society groups and non-judge member of the High Council of Justice as yet another manifestation of “judicial clan” – a handful of judges holding sway over their colleagues – tightening grip over the courts of Georgia.

ECHR Judgement

ECHR asserted on its part in the November 19 judgement that depriving Shavadze’s spouse of civil-party status in the investigation left her unable “to exercise any procedural rights at all,” adding that she could neither obtain information about the investigation nor consult the post-mortem report of Shavadze’s body.

Taking into account as well that the probe is still ongoing, ECHR unanimously held that Georgia had violated its obligations under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, involving the right to life, “in both its procedural and substantive aspects.”

ECHR further spoke of “the lack of independence and impartiality of the initial investigation,” and added that “the criminal investigation into the death of the applicants husband has been ineffective and in breach of the respondent States procedural obligations under Article 2 of the Convention.”

The Strasbourg-based court also concluded that Georgia is to pay Shavadze’s spouse EUR 40,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.

On August 16, 2008, in the aftermath of the five-day Russo-Georgian War, security forces arrested Roin Shavadze in the streets of Batumi, Adjarian capital, reportedly ferociously beating him, loudly shouting such statements as “a traitor to this country” and putting him in a police van. Six hours after, a police officer notified Shavadze’s wife of the death of her husband. According to the official version, Shavadze was arrested in relation to a drug offence and fatally injured after an attempt at unlawful escape.

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