US Senator Jim Risch, Former US Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly and former MEP Rebecca Harms have responded to yesterday's decision of Tbilisi City Court which ruled to detain United National Movement chair Nika Melia.
Risch said the decision of Tbilisi City Court is 'dangerous for Georgian democracy'.
Melia's detention is another politically motivated imprisonment that will complicate the ongoing negotiations between Georgian political parties on the governance of Georgia. My concern over the deterioration of the independence of the Georgian judiciary has been exacerbated by these events" said Risch in his interview with VOA's Georgian Service.
Kelly said in his post on Twitter that arresting Melia 'will inflame the already tense situation and further delay negotiations to enable a multiparty parliament'.
Arresting and detaining Melia will inflame already tense situation and further delay negotiations to enable a multiparty parliament. Govt must defuse situation and restart those negotiations. https://t.co/kQ7gEnDKk3— Ian Kelly (@ikelly731) February 17, 2021
Harms also shared her doubts about the independence of judiciary in Georgia in her post on Twitter:
Doubts about the independence of judiciary in #Georgia ???????? had been addressed on several issues before. Arrest of opposition leader is a very severe development. Indeed a dark day in Tbilisi. https://t.co/WlcSWee96y— Rebecca Harms (@RebHarms) February 17, 2021
Member of the European Parliament Anna Fotyga has also posted on her Twitter account that she is 'alarmed by the news coming from Georgia':
I am alarmed by the news coming from Georgia, a country that used to set examples for others and now slides back to its turbulent past as in 1990s. Decision to arrest @UNMGeorgia Chairman Nika Melia is unacceptable. https://t.co/FF5Qno3zgG— Anna Fotyga - Biuro Poselskie (@AnnaFotyga_PE) February 18, 2021
Melia is charged with incitement to violence during the June protests in Tbilisi back in 2019 which were sparked by the presence of Russian MPs in the Georgian parliament.
He was released on 30,000 GEL bail on June 27, 2020. However, Melia violated the conditions of his bail by publicly removing his surveillance bracelet and 40,000 GEL was added to his bail in November 2020.
The UNM chair has refused to pay the 40,000 GEL bail (within 50 days of sentencing) and on February 5, 2021 the Georgian Chief Prosecutor’s Office warned him of the possibility of his bail conditions being reversed to detention.