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Constitutional Court says Parliament Speaker’s statement may trigger pressure on judges

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, September 23
Georgia’s Constitutional Court, which made a verdict several days ago that keeping an individual in prison for more than nine-months was unlawful, criticized Parliament Speaker Davit Usupashvili for his statements over the right of expression.

Based on the above-mentioned verdict of the Constitutional Court, the Tbilisi City Court released ex-Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava from his 14-month pre-trial detention.

Despite the fact that Ugulava was sent to prison the next day for new charges, a group of people was irritated by the verdict of the Constitutional Court and they rallied in front of the houses of the Constitutional Court judges, accusing them of making a biased decision.

Commenting on the issue, Parliament Speaker Davit Usupashvili said that all individuals in the country had a right to express their views and hold demonstrations.

“The Constitutional Court judges should know that their verdicts will not be always welcomed,” Usupashvili said and also appealed to people to respect court decisions.

In response, the Constitutional Court stated that several demonstrations were held near the judge’s houses which in most cases were of aggressive nature, while the statements made at the rallies contained signs of abuse.

“There is no doubt that the state is obliged to ensure the freedom of expression for all persons, and everyone is entitled to criticise both the Constitutional Court and its judges in a manner that may cause distress and anger. On the other hand, assessment of threats and appeals for physical violence made towards judges, as well as throwing things in the direction of judges’ houses in the name of freedom of expression, raises serious questions.

“Accordingly, the Constitutional Court categorically urges the law enforcement authorities to respond to the mentioned facts and once again calls upon political officials to refrain from making statements which may encourage violence and effectively hinder the functioning of the court,” the court said.

Head of the court Giorgi Papuashvili stressed that he was going to inform international organizations over the incidents.

Non-Governmental Organizations and the Public Defender’s office also emphasized that any pressure on the court was unacceptable.

Georgia’s Interior Ministry stated that they had addressed the problem and one individual was detailed for hooliganism.