ECHR: No Grounds for Doubting Fairness of Criminal Proceedings Against Mikheil Saakashvili

On May 23, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in the case of Saakashvili v. Georgia that there is no reason to doubt the fairness of the criminal proceedings against former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.

The case of Saakashvili v. Georgia concerned two separate criminal proceedings against former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. He appealed to the ECHR in 2020 against two guilty verdicts handed down against him by the Tbilisi City Court in 2018. The first proceeding concerned a guilty verdict against him for an attack on former MP Valeri Gelashvili in 2005, and the second also concerned another guilty verdict against him for pardoning in 2008 four former high-ranking officers of the MIA who had been convicted in the Sandro Girgvliani murder case. Both proceedings took place after 2012, when a newly formed government declared that investigating abuses would be a top priority.

In a Chamber judgment in the case, the ECHR unanimously held that there had been no violation of Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 (d) (right to a fair trial/right to the attendance and examination of witnesses) of the European Convention on Human Rights, either in the way the national courts had dealt with the evidence against Mr. Saakashvili, or in the alleged lack of independence or impartiality of the judge who heard the second criminal case against him; and, by 5 votes to 2, that there had been no violation of Article 7 (no punishment without law) of the European Convention. Saakashvili “could reasonably have foreseen”, in the particular circumstances of the case, that using his power of pardon to pervert the course of justice in a murder case would render him criminally liable under Georgian law.

The Court also rejected as inadmissible Saakashvili’s complaints under Article 18 (limitation on use of restrictions on rights) of the Convention. It found that he had not substantiated his allegation that there had been an ulterior motive – hindering his participation in Georgian politics – behind his prosecution.

“The authorities’ honest desire was to bring the applicant to justice for his wrongdoing and that, in the absence of sufficient evidence to the contrary, the allegation of an ulterior motive is unsubstantiated,” the judgement reads.

Under Articles 43 and 44 of the Convention, this Chamber judgment is not final. During the three-month period following its delivery, any party may request that the case be referred to the Grand Chamber of the Court. If such a request is made, a panel of five judges considers whether the case deserves further examination. In that event, the Grand Chamber will hear the case and deliver a final judgment. If the referral request is refused, the Chamber judgment will become final on that day.

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


Back to top button