The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has found Georgia guilty of discrimination and ill treatment of four Georgian Muslims who protested a local government’s decision to rebuild the former mosque in the village of Mokhe as a library in Georgia's southern Adigeni municipality.
The Mokhe Mosque, built in 1927-34, has been used as a warehouse, library and village club since 1957, and since 2007 it has been owned by the local government.
The Muslim community of the village was asking the municipality either to conserve or restore the building.
The protest of the Muslim residents was preceded by the local government’s decision to convert the building into a public library in 2014.
About 100 people protested the decision in late October of 2014 in front of the building, as a result of which police arrested 14 people, of whom four are applicants in the case.
Father and son Teimuraz and Otar Mikeladze from Mokhe, and Malkhaz and Gocha Beridze from Dartseli, have accused law enforcement of using excessive force and discriminatory language.
The Social Justice Center EMC defended the rights of the four protesters in the Strasbourg court along with the European Human Rights Center (EHRAC), stating that the applicants ‘suffered physical and psychological violence during their detention.’
It should be noted that the psychological violence against the applicants in the police department continued, and one was subjected to physical violence,” the EMC reported.
It also says that no criminal proceedings were initiated against police officers during the investigation, ‘despite the fact that many witnesses identified them as being involved in the violence.’
The ECHR maintains that Georgia must pay one of the applicants 3,900 EUR, and 1,800 EUR to each of the remaining three applicants in respect of non-pecuniary damage.
However, the court rejected the applicants’ claim for costs and expenses.