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U.S. appeals are foreseen- Thomas Melia claims

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, December 14
The Georgian government is listening to international calls for due process and paying “heightened attention” while probing into possible wrongdoings that may have occurred during the previous administration, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Thomas Melia, told journalists in Tbilisi on December 12th. Melia, Catherine Newcombe from the U.S. Department of Justice and USAID assistant administrator Paige Alexander visited Georgia on December 12th as part of a regional trip.

According to Melia the United States urged Georgia’s new authorities to strictly control the investigation and legal process regarding supposed wrongdoings committed by the former Georgian government.

“We think the government is hearing these voices; they are listening to us and we think that there has been a heightened attention paid in recent weeks to due process.” Melia said.

Melia added that he met with the Minister of Justice Tea Tsulukiani and Chef Prosecutor Archil Kbilashvili from whom he received information on various important topics.

Both Tsulukiani and Kbilashvili corroborated that they relayed information on ongoing and planned reforms.

“We have responded to all questions asked by the representatives of the United States and informed them about the current situation.” Kbilashvili stated.

“They are very committed, I believe, to proceeding in a way that is consistent with the highest standards of due process and international standards.” Melia said. Melia emphasized that that the U.S. would continue to watch these developments carefully.

The deputy Assistant Secretary emphasized that the level of respect towards the opposition is an indicator of the level of democracy inside Georgia. Melia also promised that he would provide information for several U.S. Senators concerning legal issues in Georgia. Earlier this week several U.S. Senators expressed concerns that politically motivated legal investigations might be occurring in Georgia.

Prime Minister Ivanishvili stated that it was his second meeting with Melia and stressed the importance of friendly Georgian-American relations.

“We met before the parliamentary elections for the first time… it was a very interesting meeting. I think that Georgian-American relations will grow deeper in the future.” Ivanishvili stated.

Melia also held a meeting with NGOs. Among the topics discussed at the meeting were government related issues, the wave of current arrests, and ethnic and religious minorities.

Head of the Young Lawyers’ Association Tamar Chugoshvili, stated that most of the meeting was dedicated to discussing the recent wave of arrests of former government officials.

“The importance of fair trials and just investigations were stressed.” Chugoshvili stated.

Melia said that there were some problems concerning religious minorities before stating that the rights of all minorities should be protected.

“Statements made by the Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili that the rights of minorities will be protected inside the country are very important and we hope that other state officials will follow the same path.” Melia stated.

Opposition party the United National Movement (UNM) claims that the ongoing arrests of former officials in the country are excessive and politically motivated. According to UNM representatives it is obvious to the international community that the current Georgian government is carrying out pressure tactics and revenge on members of the former administration.