Court’s decision to order pre-trial detention for one of the leaders of the opposition UNM party, Gigi Ugulava, is “objective” and “celebration of justice”, PM Irakli Garibashvili told journalists on Saturday.
“What happed yesterday in the court – the detention of Ugulava – is celebration of justice. Yesterday we saw once again independent judiciary and objective, fair decision of an independent judge. I welcome strengthening of independence of the judiciary,” he said.
“No one in Georgia is above the law and no one will be,” Garibashvili said.
“Supremacy of the law is the most important for us. You know what is happening in Europe; several day ago former French president [Nicolas Sarkozy] was detained for questioning, and we declare that we want to be part of Europe, we want the European democracy and the European standards and we are establishing these standards – no one is above the law regardless of their political affiliation and regardless of whether they are former senior officials or not; no one should be above the law,” Garibashvili said.
Commenting on scuffles that erupted outside the court building after the judge ordered Ugulava’s pre-trial detention late on Friday night, the PM said that it was “violence” against the police.
“Resisting police is punishable. The police acted absolutely correctly. I want to call on the police to immediately eradicate all such illegal actions no matter who the perpetrators might be,” he said.
Several people were detained by the police in chaotic scenes and scuffles outside the court building, including UNM MP Levan Bezhashvili, who was dragged into a police car taken away from the scene. He was released about three hours later. UNM said it would seek inquiry into unlawful detention of the lawmaker.
Eight others, among them Georgia’s former ambassador to Italy Kote Gabashvili, who were detained, are facing charges for administrative offenses involving petty hooliganism and disobeying police orders, according to the Interior Ministry. Court is expected to hear these cases on Saturday.
UNM, which has condemned Ugulava’s detention as launch of “new phase of political retributions”, said that scuffles outside the court building were provoked by plain-clothes security officers.