Chairman of the Constitutional Court Giorgi Papuashvili said he has spoken with the Interior Minister and called on him to react to protest rallies outside the homes of some court members, which he described as “pressure” on the Constitutional Court.
Pro-government groups rallied outside Papuashvili’s homes in Tbilisi and Batumi, where the Constitutional Court is based, condemning Constitutional Court’s September 16 decision, which allowed ex-mayor of Tbilisi and one of the leaders of UNM opposition party Gigi Ugulava to be released from 14-month pre-trial detention. Protesters were calling Papuashvili “friend” of UNM and accusing the Constitutional Court of taking “anti-state” decision.
“Pressure on some judges of the Constitutional Court and their family members has intensified after the Constitutional Court delivered its decision on September 16,” Papuashvili told journalists on September 18.
“Certain individuals are rallying outside the judges’ homes, blocking it and making threats and calling for physical retribution, which endangers security of the Constitutional Court members, as well as of their family members,” he said.
“Therefore I call on the law enforcement agencies to react promptly and adequately to these cases in order to allow for normal functioning of the Constitutional Court,” Papuashvili said, adding that he spoke about the issue with Interior Minister Giorgi Mgebrishvili.
“On the other hand I want to call on high-level political office holders to refrain from disseminating unchecked and incorrect information related to internal procedural issues of the [Constitutional] Court. I also expect from these politicians that they will condemn such cases of pressure on the court and its members,” the Constitutional Court chairman said.
Earlier on September 18, President Giorgi Margvelashvili released a written statement reading: “Development of the impartial, politically neutral and rule of law-based judicial system is unwavering will of the Georgian people. This process needs to be protected and strengthened.”
“There has been an attempt in recent days to politicize the judicial processes by the country’s political spectrum, as well as by the representative of a foreign government – ex-president of Georgia,” President Margvelashvili said.
The statement does not specify, but he was apparently referring to comments by ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, who is now governor of Odessa region in Ukraine, who wrote on his social media accounts after Ugulava was released: “I welcome release of innocent Gigi Ugulava, the end of 14-month absurd and the beginning of the end of Russian oligarch’s regime.”
“In this political fuss, I express my support to the entire judiciary and reiterate that alongside with the public, I will stand beside the judiciary on this difficult path of development of democratic state,” President Margvelashvili said.