The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg made a final decision regarding the case of Georgia’s former Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili, who has been in prison in Georgia since 2013 on charges of abuse of power. The court ruled that the arrest and pre-trial detention of Merabishvili were not based on reasonable suspicion and had been aimed to remove him from the political scene.
The press release of the European Court of Human Rights on the case reads:
“In today’s Grand Chamber judgment in the case the European Court of Human Rights held:
unanimously, that there had been no violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) of the
European Convention on Human Rights with regard to Mr. Merabishvili’s arrest or his pre-trial
unanimously, that there had been no violation of Article 5 § 3 (entitlement of a detainee to trial
within a reasonable time or to release pending trial) with regard to his initial placement in pre-trial detention;
unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 5 § 3 in that, at least from 25 September
2013 onwards, his pre-trial detention had ceased to be based on sufficient grounds; and
by nine votes to eight, that there had been a violation of Article 18 (limitation on the use of restrictions on rights) taken in conjunction with Article 5 § 1.”
The European Court of Human Rights says the reasons for the charges against Merabishvili were changing throughout a continuous period of time.
“It came to the conclusion – bearing in mind all the circumstances – that the predominant purpose of that restriction had changed over time. While in the beginning that purpose had been the investigation of offenses based on a reasonable suspicion, later on, the predominant purpose became to obtain information about Mr. Zhvania’s death and Mr. Saakashvili’s bank accounts,” the court said.
Merabishvili was one of the leaders of the United National Movement (UNM). He was a prime minister of Georgia in 2012.
He was detained on May 21, 2013, on two criminal charges. The first charge against him was associated with the creation of phony public-sector jobs where around 20,000 people were helping the UNM in their campaign before the 2012 elections. More than two million euros were allocated for their salaries. Merabishvili was charged with abuse of his power as an official, purchase of votes, and improper usage of the property. The second charge against Merabishvili was related to usage of public funds for renovations on a private property, that belonged to a firm under investigation of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. He was charged with abuse of his power and improper usage of the property.