The Tbilisi City Court today satisfied the prosecution’s motion to replace United National Movement Chair Nika Melia’s pretrial detention with a release on bail, marking the end of the opposition leader’s two and a half months-long stay in custody. Melia is expected to leave prison premises shortly thereafter.
The decision comes after the European Union posted bail worth GEL 40,000 (USD 11,680) on May 8, with the assistance of the European Endowment for Democracy and Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association.
Police detained the opposition leader in the controversial raid on UNM headquarters on February 23, only a few hours into Irakli Garibashvili’s election as Prime Minister. The arrest came after Melia, facing charges for heading mass violence during the protest on the night of June 20-21, 2019, refused to post an increased bail of GEL 40,000 (USD 11,680).
The bail for Melia was increased after he publicly removed an electronic monitoring bracelet during a rally on November 1 while protesting “fraudulent” parliamentary elections outside the Parliament building. The UNM leader had already posted the initial amount of GEL 30,000 (USD 8,760) imposed by the Court for the June 20-21 unrest case.
The detention further exacerbated Georgia’s political impasse, leading to the launch of EU-mediated talks by European Council President Charles Michel on March 1. Although the EU-brokered deal envisaged releasing Melia through an amnesty act on June 20-21, 2019, events, the detained opposition leader decried the proposal for clemency, and agreed to be released through the EU-offered bail payment.