Civic movement posts bail for suspects in Georgia-Azerbaijan ‘land forfeit’ case

  • Melashvili and Ilichova will not be able to leave the country before the court delivers a verdict in the case. Photo: RFE/RL.

Agenda.ge, 29 Jan 2021 - 15:04, Tbilisi,Georgia

Money has been collected to fully post bail for Iveri Melashvili and Natalia Ilichova, who are charged in the Georgia-Azerbaijan ‘land forfeit’ high profile case, the civic movement Sirtskhvilia (Geo. Shame) stated yesterday after the release of the suspects.

Melashvili and Ilichova were released on 20,000 GEL bail each on January 28.

After the release, the civic movement Sirtskhvilia (Geo. Shame) called on the public to collect money for Iveri Melashvili and Natalia Ilichova in order to cover the bail.

Within two hours of publishing the bank account number on the official page of the civic movement, 40,000 GEL was collected.

The Georgian Prosecutor’s Office requested bail for the two individuals and stated that there was no need for pretrial detention.

Melashvili and Ilichova will not be able to leave the country before the court delivers a verdict in the case.

On January 21 the Georgian Chief Prosecutor’s Office stated that Melashvili ‘was forced’ to sign the border agreement back in 2006 and released a video recorded in Melashvili’s working room.

An official statement of the Chief Prosecutor’s Office says that Melashvili, the former head of the Department for Border Relations with Neighbouring Countries and Ilichova, former Chief Inspector of the Land Border Protection Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, hid the original map of 1938 from the border commission members (which was chaired by Melashvili) and instead used a 1970-80 map in the process of demarcating the border.

The suspects do not admit to the crime and say that the map was ‘worthless’ and was rejected in 2006-2007.  

The opposition says that Melashvili and Ilichova are ‘political prisoners.’ 

One of the leaders of the European Georgia opposition party Sergi Kapanadze said that the Georgian Dream government ‘is likely to have plans to detain some former officials.’ 

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union back in 1991, out of its four neighboring states Georgia has agreed upon its borders only with Turkey.

Only two-thirds of the state border has been agreed upon with Azerbaijan so far, which on several occasions triggered tension in David Gareji back in 2019. 

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