Georgian opposition leader Gigi Ugulava jailed after 23 hours of freedomSeptember 22nd, 2015 Georgia | News
The former mayor of Tbilisi Gigi Ugulava was released following Georgian Constitutional Court declaring his prolonged pre-trial detention as anti-constitutional and illegal. Less than 24 hours later he was jailed again.
Read more below.
Georgia: Opposition Leader Ugulava Jailed After 23 Hours of Freedom
Gigi Ugulava, one of the key Georgian opposition leaders and former mayor of Tbilisi was jailed less than 24 hours after being released following Georgian Constitutional Court declaring his prolonged pre-trial detention as anti constitutional and illegal.
Ugulava’s re-arrest sparked series of critical statements from European leaders accusing the Georgian Government, dominated by former PM and billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili of selective justice and “determination to see opposition in prison.”
“We have received with great shock and sadness the news that former mayor of Tbilisi Gigi Ugulava has been again arrested and sentenced to over four years of jail time. This comes just one day after his release following a groundbreaking verdict of the Georgian Constitutional Court, which found his prolonged pre-trail detention illegal and unconstitutional. Gigi Ugulava enjoyed not even a full day of freedom with his family and friends. The situation in Georgia sends an alarming signal. The justice system is becoming an effective tool of vengeance against political opponents in the hands of the authorities,” said statement issued by Elmar Brok, and influential MEP and chairman of the Eurpean Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.
“We remind that the European Parliament when ratifying the Association Agreement with Georgia in December last year strongly called on the authorities to avoid instrumentalisation of the justice system as a tool of political retribution. This is regrettably still happening. Ongoing cases of selective justice are in grave breach of the spirit and the letter of the Association Agreement between Georgia and the European Union. The determination of the Georgian authorities to apply selective justice towards political opponents is detrimental to the country and will harm it’s European perspective. This must stop now,” he added.
Ugulava was first arrested in July 2014, in the middle of the local election campaign he was leading for the UNM, and was held in solitary confinement without a conviction for 14 months.
Following his release on September 17, one of the cases against Mr Ugulava was suddenly accelerated, with judge severely limiting number of defence’s rights, including denying Mr Ugulava the right of final statement.
“The acceleration of one of the cases against Ugulava was clearly politically driven, showed strong signs of interference in the justice system and was solely aimed at incarcerating a major Georgian political figure as soon as possible,” said EPP President Joseph Daul in a statement.
The OSCE described political motivation amounting to the “systematic denial of fair trial” in its December 2014 report on the trials against former Georgian officials (OSCE/ODIHR Trial Monitoring Report 2014). In its October 2014 Resolution on Georgia, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly expressed concern over the fact that “…almost the entire leadership of the former ruling party has been arrested or is under prosecution or investigation.”
In a call-in poll organised by Rustavi2, Georgia’s most popular TV station, 88% of around 14 thousand viewers that rang studio said they viewed Mr Ugulava as “political prisoner.”
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