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Nine MEPs Urge Georgian Gov’t to Release Ex-PM Merabishvili

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, December 18
(BRUSSELS)--Nine members of the European Parliament formally requested the release of Georgia’s jailed former Prime Minister Ivane Merabishvili.

The MEPs called on the government of Georgia to respect the final judgment of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) regarding Ivanishvili’s case. The court upheld a previous ruling and demanded that the Georgian government pay Merabishvili €4,000 for damages.

“In today’s challenging international security environment, it is in the interests of the Georgian people that all political forces find common ground and look to the future. With this in mind, we call on the Georgian authorities to release Mr. Merabishvili without delay,” the letter reads.

The letter also touches upon the developments around Georgia’s most opposition-inclined Rustavi 2 TV broadcaster, adding the effort to change its ownership raises concerns.

“It is important that Georgia preserve the pluralistic media landscape that offers a diversity of views to its citizens,” adding, “the responsibility of ensuring that Georgia’s progress continues primarily rests on those whom the Georgian people elected to govern their country.”

Merabishvili served as prime minister and interior minister under the previous government of Saakashvili’s United National Movement (UNM).

He was arrested in May 2013, shortly after the Georgian Dream coalition defeated the UNM in the 2012 Parliamentary Elections, and was later charged with having forged documents, falsified votes and abused his position of power.

Tbilisi’s City Court convicted Merabishvili in 2014 of several crimes, including the use of excessive force when dispersing protestors, which carried a multi-year prison sentence.

Merabishvili later filed a complaint against the country’s ruling Georgian Dream, accusing the party of falsifying evidence to be used against him and that he was being held as a political prisoner.

The ECtHR rejected Merabishvili’s claims, but the court admitted that Georgian authorities had illegally removed Merabishvili from his cell on December 14, 2013 in an attempt to force him into providing information about the mysterious death of former Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania in 2005.

On November 28, the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR ruled that Georgian authorities violated the European Convention on Human Rights’ statute regarding the right to liberty and security.