Thursday, April 15, 2021

Melia in custody or out – who has the key to a prison cell?

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Nobody knows exactly whether Judge Nino Chakhnashvili will raise the issue of reviewing the detention measure at tomorrow’s session and if she will raise it – what will be her final decision. Nika Melia, accused in the June 20 events, is currently in pre-trial detention for non-payment of increased bail. Melia’s release was one of the main demands of the opposition as part of the ongoing fruitless negotiations on EU mediation. “Georgian Dream” again claims that the key to the cell is in the hands of Nika Melia.

  • How did the investigation of Melia’s case go? Almost two years after Gavrilov’s night?
  • What will change Melia’s release from pre-trial detention amid the political crisis?

Expectations are assumed

On April 17, Nika Melia will be executed for 2 months by the Tbilisi City Court He was sentenced to imprisonment And lawyers expect the judge to raise the issue at the April 8 hearing – a review of the detention measure.

“Once the detention is ordered, the court is obliged to review the issue on its own initiative at the substantive hearing once every two months. It is mandatory. Two months pass on April 17, but since the hearing is scheduled for April 8, there is an expectation that the judge will do so on April 8. There is no need for the defense to file a motion. “ – Beka Basilaia, Nika Melia’s lawyer, tells Radio Liberty.

Lawyer Giorgi Kondakhishvili explains that after repeated changes of judges and a long pause, on April 8, according to the law, the substantive hearing of Nika Melia’s case practically starts again and the first hearing is held. If Judge Chakhnashvili does not raise the issue of revision of the restraining order at tomorrow’s hearing, Kondakhishvili says he will have to do so at another hearing before April 17. Lawyers expect not a legal but a political decision.

“This case is political from the beginning to the end, they have no evidence and the government has always used this case to restrict the freedom of politicians. It is difficult to say what decision the court will make. The arrest of Nika was a political decision and “Further decisions on whether to release or imprison him will be similarly political.” Beka Basilaia tells us.

The case of Nika Melia, the leader of the United National Movement, is being discussed, among other high-profile cases, between the government and the opposition. 2020 year 8 March Decorated Agreement Then it was stopped.

Nika Simonishvili, chairman of the Young Lawyers’ Association, told RFE / RL that Melia’s release would be a very good step and would ease the political crisis to some extent. GYLA Considers Detention of Opposition Politician Unreasonable “Hiding, destroying evidence or committing a new crime” Dangers.

Lawyers demand to leave Nika Melia without a restraining order. Simonishvili tells us that the court is free to do so now and could have done so before Melia was arrested. “Also, the court could, for example, take the bail previously paid by Melia – 30 thousand GEL to the budget, removing the obligation to return it” He explains.

International puzzle

Due to distrust of the court, the opposition does not have optimistic expectations. However, they hope that sooner or later, the government, as a result of international pressure, will have to release Nika Melia, who is considered a political prisoner by the opposition.

Even if Melia is released, the demands of the release of Giorgi Rurua, a shareholder of the Main Channel, and the calling of early elections will not be removed from the agenda – the opposition parties have agreed on this.

Authorities have categorically refused to consider these demands, citing a political dialogue initiated by the President of the Council of Europe. Two fruitless rounds Within.

The public position of the government is that it can not interfere in the activities of the court, and Nika Melia can leave the cell at any time – after paying bail.

A number of similar statements have been made in the ranks of the Georgian Dream in recent days. Rati Ionatamishvili, for example, said that Melia was in prison “on his own initiative” and that the opposition was artificially trying to politicize the issue.

Nika Melia, the chairman of the largest opposition party Arrest Instant scathing statements followed from America or Europe. International partners again spoke of politically motivated justice, the threat of further escalation of the political crisis, and the reversal of democracy. It was hard for many to see the storm on the office of the main opposition party on the morning of February 23 and the arrest of the opposition leader in his own office, using force.

After “Gavrilov Night”

The case against Nika Melia was launched after June 20, 2019.

The so-called Nika Melia after the bloody events related to “Gavrilov Night” Charged 225-E Article First And Second In parts (group Violence organise Or Leadership and in it Participate).

  • Due to the June 20 case, Nika Melia was twice suspended as a Member of Parliament: in the Parliament of the Ninth Convocation – on June 26, 2019; And in the parliament of the tenth convocation (which the opposition is boycotting) – February 16, 2021. These procedures were requested by the Attorney General to obtain the right to arrest Melia.
  • On June 27, 2019, Nika Melia’s court ordered him to pay 30,000 GEL bail instead of imprisonment, and on July 3, 2019, he was given an electronic monitoring bracelet by the staff of the National Probation Agency. Melia wore the bracelet for 16 months.
  • After the October 31, 2020 elections, at the November 1 protest rally, Nika Melia removed his electronic bracelet and threw it in the crowd;
  • After the arbitrary removal of the bracelet, at the request of the prosecutor’s office, Melia was released from the obligation to wear the bracelet altogether, and finally, according to the decision of the Tbilisi City Court, the 30,000 GEL bail already paid was increased by 40,000 GEL (70,000 GEL in total);
  • Nika Melia categorically refused to pay 40 thousand GEL, which finally ended on February 17, 2021 with imprisonment for him as a measure of restraint;
  • Together with the supporters, “Nika Melia, who was in the office of the National Movement, was arrested by the police on February 23, 2021, using pepper gas and force, as part of a special operation.

Nika Melia had been charged with a similar crime The leader of “Victorious Georgia”, Irakli Okruashvili. But to him Finally not approved group Violence organise And Only In gang violence To participate Due to conviction. 2020 13 In April Okruashvili was sentenced by the court 5-Years Imprisonment Sentenced, However, in the wake of the March 8 political agreement, 15 In May He The President Zurabishvili Pardoned.

At the court hearing held on November 27, 2019, the detainee in the case of June 20, Zurab Budaghashvili He said he had been forced to testify against opposition political leaders Nikanor Melia, Giorgi Ugulava and Irakli Okruashvili at the penitentiary. According to the Human Rights Center, he was threatened with arrest by relatives. A few days after this announcement Arrested Zurab Budaghashvili’s brother too.

In July 2019, the prosecutor’s office also spoke about the ongoing investigation under Article 315, Part 3 of the Criminal Code, which stipulates “rebellion to overthrow and seize state power.” However, no one has been charged under this article.

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