30 Nov 2017 19:11

European People's Party president accuses Georgian authorities of persecuting political opponents

TBILISI. Nov 30 (Interfax) - Georgia's former prime minister Vano Merabishvili, who is serving a prison term, is a political prisoner, European People's Party President Joseph Daul said.

"Georgian government must immediately release the political prisoner #Merabishvili. The most recent @ECHR_Press on Merabishvili case demonstrates again that Georgian authorities use the judiciary to suppress its political opponents," Daul said on Twitter.

On Tuesday the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) Grand Chamber found the Georgian state in breach of some articles of the European Convention of Human Rights in its treatment of Merabishvili and ordered that he be paid 4,000 euro.

Merabishvili was detained in 2013 and was sentenced to 6.5 years in prison for commission of several crimes while holding top positions.

In the meantime, Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze told reporters on Thursday that Merabishvili is not a political prisoner and said the statement made by the European People's Party president is political.

"It's a political evaluation of the Merabishvili case, the legal evaluation was given by our Justice Ministry," Janelidze said.

Georgian Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani told reporters this week that the ECHR had not found any irregularities in the four sentences handed down in various criminal cases against Merabishvili and therefore he could not be called a political prisoner.

Courts are currently trying several other criminal cases against Merabishvili. He has recently said he does not trust the Georgian judicial system and refused to attend court hearings.