European Court rules violation of presumption of innocence against former MP by previous Georgian gov’t

 Former MP Irakli Batiashvili was detained in 2006 for his possible connections with an armed group. Photo: 1TV., 11 Oct 2019 - 15:28, Tbilisi,Georgia

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that the presumption of innocence was violated against former official and MP Irakli Batiashvili in 2006, under the United National Movement leadership and now the state must pay him 3,600 euros for non-pecuniary damage. 

The case took place back in the summer of  2006 when Batiashvili was detained for his possible links with an armed group in the Kodori Gorge of Georgia, “which was attempting a rebellion against the government.” 

In July 2006 tensions arose in Georgia over the possibility that an armed group in the Kodori Gorge (Zemo Abkhazia, occupied by Russia since 2008 war), which had helped the Georgian government in its 1992-1993 fight against separatist forces in Abkhazia region, would begin a conflict with the state government,” the ECHR says. 

The UNM government took control of the gorge in late July 2006 in a nearly bloodless police operation. 

Shortly after Batiashvili was charged with failure to report to the authorities the potential involvement of the Abkhaz separatists in the conflict between the armed group and the state government, providing a recording of a telephone conversation between Batiashvili and the head of the armed group Emzar Kvitsiani (now an MP in the Georgian parliament, a member of the Alliance of Patriots opposition). 

ECHR announced its judggement on the case Batiashvili vs Georgia yesterday. 

Batiashvili said,  and it was later confirmed that the recording which was handed to Rustavi 2 TV by the law enforcement agencies,  was edited and lacked the section where Kvitsiani says that he refused the help from Abkhaz separatists. 

Batiashvili was held in pre-trial detention for four months and found guilty of the charges in 2007. Later, under the same authorities, he was released by the presidential pardon. 

After being released Batiashvili appealed to the European court and said that his right to liberty and security, right to have lawfulness of detention decided speedily by a court and the presumption of innocence were violated in the case.

He alleged that statements by prominent members of parliament and the dissemination to the media of an edited recording of his telephone conversation had infringed his rights under Article 6 § 2 (presumption of innocence) of the European Convention,” the ECHR said. 

The court confirmed only the third allegation regarding the presumption of innocence.

Batiashvili said that he and his family suffered a huge damage that time and the damage will never be compensated. However, he said that he welcomed the decision of the European Court.