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Rapporteur Pieter Omtzigt reacts to the prosecution of Georgian opposition leaders

Pieter Omtzigt (Netherlands, EPP/CD), rapporteur of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) on “Keeping criminal and political responsibility separate”, has made the following statement with regard to the prosecution of former government leaders in Georgia:

“I have been told of allegations that the prosecution of former government leaders in Georgia would amount to political persecution. As PACE’s Rapporteur on ‘Keeping criminal and political responsibility separate’, I am naturally concerned when such allegations are made. Without wanting to judge the merits of these allegations, I have discussed them with my colleagues Boriss Cilevics (Latvia, SOC) and Michael Aastrup Jensen (Denmark, ALDE), who are the Assembly’s co-rapporteurs for Georgia, and who informed me that they are following these cases closely.”

“I am particularly concerned about the allegation that former Prime Minister Merabishvili may have been ‘kidnapped’ from his cell by the former Prosecutor General in order to make him testify in other high-profile cases. In that respect, reports that relevant CCTV footage - which could prove or disprove these allegations - has been deleted are worrying, and need to be fully investigated. I am also troubled by the removal of the directly-elected Mayor of Tbilisi by a court decision, without him having been convicted.”

I will be in close contact with the monitoring co-rapporteurs on the developments regarding these politically-sensitive trials, and I would like to bring to the attention of the authorities the Council of Europe standards in this respect as laid down in PACE Resolution 1950 (2013).”