Rapporteur of Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe (PACE) on “abuse of pre-trial detention”, Spanish lawmaker Pedro Agramunt, chairman of EPP group in PACE, called on the Georgian authorities not to use pre-trial detention to “settle political scores.”
“Georgia has made a good deal of progress in reducing pre-trial detention. Given the general improvement, I was surprised to learn that such a large number of senior representatives of the previous government, currently in opposition, have been kept in detention, some of them in deep isolation, despite the presumption of innocence,” said Agramunt, who paid a fact-finding visit to Georgia this week.
“I could not help getting the impression that this is part of a bitter campaign by the current authorities against their predecessors,” said Agramunt, who is also PACE’s co-rapporteur on Azerbaijan.
“The demonisation of political competitors, which seems to be mutual in Georgia, is not healthy for a democracy, and the power to detain suspected criminals must not be used, or appear to be used, to settle political scores,” he said.
In Tbilisi Agramunt also visited several former senior officials, who are either in pre-trial detention or are serving prison terms after being convicted. He visited ex-PM Vano Merabishvili and ex-defense minister and former prison system chief Bacho Akhalaia, who are serving prison terms after court found them guilty of various criminal charges, as well as ex-mayor of Tbilisi Gigi Ugulava and former head of criminal police Irakli Pirtskhalava, who are in pre-trial detention.
Fact-finding visit to Georgia was made in a lead-up to a report PACE rapporteur is expected to prepare on abuse of pre-trial detention in the Council of Europe member states; he has already visited Russia and Turkey for this purpose.