European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said trial against three men, who were sentenced for plotting against the authorities eight years ago, was not fair.
In its ruling on October 27, the Strasbourg-based court awarded Gujar Kurashvili, formerly a commander of the Georgian land forces; as well as Archil Panjikidze and Kakhaber Kantaria with EUR 2,000 each for non-pecuniary damage.
The three men, along with some others, were arrested in May, 1999 and accused of preparing plot and assassination of senior Georgian officials, including then-president Eduard Shevardnadze. Authorities claimed at that time that former security minister, Igor Giorgadze, was behind the plot.
Criminal Bench of the Supreme Court, composed of one professional judge and two lay judges, found the three men in November, 2001 guilty of plotting against the constitutional order and sentenced each of them to three years in prison.
ECHR ruled in favor of the three applicants who claimed that trial against them was unfair because the Criminal Bench of the Supreme Court, which had tried them, was not a “tribunal established by law”, since it included two lay judges who were not legally competent to exercise the functions of a judge.
Institution of lay judges was abolished in Georgia in 2005. The institution was a holdover from the Soviet judiciary system, wherein individuals from other professions were invited to take part in a trial as lay judges, acting as representatives of the people.