Court annuls fine of Justice Ministry for ‘illegal release’ of Saakashvili’s videos

  • Based on the court’s decision the state bodies are no longer obliged to delete the videos from social media as was requested by the Inspector’s Service. Photo: Nino Alavidze/Agenda.ge.

Agenda.ge, 12 Jan 2022 - 11:37, Tbilisi,Georgia

Tbilisi City Court has annulled the decision of the State Inspector’s Service of Georgia fining the country’s Justice Ministry and the Special Penitentiary Service 2,000 GEL for the release of footage of ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili in prison, the Inspector’s Service reports. 

The State Inspector’s Service determined on December 3 last year that the Justice Ministry and the Penitentiary Service of Georgia violated the law on personal data by releasing the videos of Saakashvili eating certain food and receiving food supplements while on hunger strike along with the footage of his transfer from Rustavi prison to the Gldani Prison hospital on November 8. 

Based on the court’s decision the state bodies are no longer obliged to delete the videos from social media as was requested by the Inspector’s Service. 

The Justice Ministry and the Penitentiary Service stated that they released the footage of Saakashvili due to ‘high public interest,’ noting that the release of the videos was required to prove that the ex-president’s life and health were not at risk due to the hunger strike.

Tbilisi City Court states that no violation of the law on personal data protection was established in the case. 

"The court considered that the information published by the Georgian Justice Ministry about Mikheil Saakashvili's food ration and audio-video recordings served the legitimate purpose of protecting state and public safety," the court says. 

The Georgian parliament adopted the bill replacing the State Inspector’s Service with the Special Investigation and Personal Data Protection services on December 30 despite the calls of foreign diplomats, NGOs and the opposition to pause the process.

Per the bill, the body will be replaced with two new agencies on March 1, 2022, therefore, the Inspector’s Service hopes that the court’s decision will be submitted to their office before March in order to have an opportunity to appeal against it. 

Saakashvili, who underwent a course of treatment in Gori Military Hospital following a hunger strike starting the day of his arrest on October 1after his clandestine return from eight years in political exile, was transferred back to Rustavi No. 12 prison on December 30.

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