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The News in Brief

Wednesday, June 22
Prosecutor’s Office Launches Probe After ECHR’s Ruling into Merabishvili’s Case

The Georgian Chief Prosecutor’s Office said on Tuesday it has opened an investigation into allegations voiced by ex-Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili two and a half years ago about being removed from his pretrial detention cell for a meeting with the then-Chief Prosecutor in an attempt to put pressure on him. The issue has not yet been investigated, resulting in the European Court of Human Rights ruling partly in favour of Merabishvili’s complaint last week.

“Based on the European Court of Human Rights’ June 14 ruling, the Chief Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into a possible case of exceeding official powers by certain officials,” said Prosecutor’s Office spokesperson Natia Sukhiashvili.

The Strasbourg-based court said in its ruling on June 14 that Merabishvili’s initial pretrial detention in May, 2013 was lawful, but the decision of the Tbilisi City Court four months later, in September 2013, to remand him in detention lacked reasonable grounds.

The ECHR also found violation of Article 18 of the European convention on human rights, saying that Merabishvili’s detention was “used not only for the purpose of bringing” him before the relevant legal authorities on “reasonable suspicion” of various offences with which he had been charged, “but was also treated by the prosecuting authorities as an additional opportunity to obtain leverage” over investigations into unrelated cases, including the one against ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili.

Article 18 of the Convention deals with situations when even if the state justifies restricting someone’s rights, it will still be deemed a violation if it turns out that this restriction of rights, among them detention, was used for some ulterior purposes, including hidden political agenda or any reason other than the one formally stated. There have been only few cases in the practice of the ECHR to find the violation of this article.

This finding by the Strasbourg-based court in respect of violation of the Article 18 stems from the incident that occurred in December 2013, when Merabishvili was removed from his cell and taken for a late-night meeting with then chief prosecutor, Otar Partskhaladze, whom Merabishvili accused of intimidation for the purpose of obtaining information about the death of the former Prime Minister, Zurab Zhvania, and about alleged secret offshore bank accounts of ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili.

The ECHR found this allegation of Merabishvili about his removal from the cell credible. The Court also noted that there was “clearly observable reluctance” by the prison authority to provide access to video images taken by the prison surveillance cameras, which could have shed more light on the incident; and in general, the ECHR said, the authorities, “notably” then Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, then prison system minister Sozar Subari, who is now the minister in charge of IDPs issues, were “unmistakably opposed to the calls for an objective and thorough investigation”.

Justice Minister Tea Tskulukiani said on June 14 that the Georgian authorities will now have to investigate the December 2013 incident.

The UNM opposition party said that launch of investigation now is too little, too late.

UNM MP Levan Tarkhnishvili said that the only adequate reaction to the ECHR’s ruling would be to release Merabishvili and “other political prisoners” from jail. (

Employee of Ministry of Refugees arrested on bribery charges

The Anti-Corruption Agency of the State Security Service has arrested Tekla K., employee of the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees, for taking a bribe in large amounts, Giorgi Kurdadze, the investigator of the case said at a briefing today.

According to him, the investigation found that Tekla K. requested and received 7 000 USD from an IDP in exchange of assistance in getting an apartment from the Ministry.

The Anti-Corruption Agency of the State Security Service has launched an investigation into the case. The detainee faces 5-11 years in prison if convicted. (IPN)

182 criminal offences, 1450 administrative violations revealed on 16-18 June

According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, as a result of police control, 182 criminal offences, including 61 cases of illegal possession of arms, 1 attempted murder, 21 cases of illegal purchase, keeping and sale of drugs, 1 case of drug smuggling, were revealed on 16-18 June.

In addition, police arrested 1 person and solved a number of cases of a robbery, attempted robbery and drug smuggling.

There were 1450 cases of administrative violations, including 49 cases of illegal drug use, 17 cases of hooliganism, 32 cases of disobedience, 16 cases of disobedience and petty hooliganism.

During police control activities, 26 persons were detained for criminal offences and 53 for administrative offences. (IPN)

19 June 2016, Statement of the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey Tanju Bilgic, in Response to a Question Regarding Allegations of Shooting at Syrians Who Were Trying to Cross Into Our Borders Illegally

Certain reports in the media to the effect that Turkey's security forces deliberately opened fire on Syrian civilians last night who were trying to cross into Turkey illegally through the section of our borders near Hatay province and therefore caused their deaths do not reflect reality.

Our security forces maintain the security of our borders with appropriate measures in line with the sensitivities presented by risks and threats brought about by both the conflict in Syria and the activities of terrorist organizations and smuggling networks in this country.

Our security forces act fully within the confines of the legal framework when they respond to border incidents and illegal border crossing attempts. (Turkish Embassy)