The Tbilisi City Court upheld on November 21 the decision made by the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia to deny refugee status to Mustafa Emre Çabuk, one of the managers of Private Demirel College in Tbilisi, and his family members.
The Ministry of Refugees refused to grant the status to Mustafa Emre Çabuk on July 7. His defense lawyers challenged the decision in the Tbilisi City Court in early August.
In his remarks on the court ruling, Ioseb Baratashvili, one of Çabuk’s defense lawyers, said “the issue, as far as we know, was discussed at the meeting of Georgian and Turkish senior officials.” “It seems that our state is not ready to issue impartial and fair decisions on similar issues,” he added.
The defense lawyers plan to challenge the Tbilisi City Court’s ruling in the Court of Appeals, which is a court of last resort for discussing refugee status-related disputes.
Mustafa Emre Çabuk was detained in May at the request of Turkish authorities allegedly for having links to Fethullah Gülen-associated FETÖ - an organization designated as terrorist by Turkey.
If a refugee status is granted to Çabuk, he will be subject to the Law of Georgia on International Protection, according to which “an asylum seeker or an internationally protected person shall not be returned or refouled to the border of the country where his/her life or freedom is endangered on the grounds of his/her race, religion, nationality, affiliation to a certain social group or political views.”
Çabuk, who denies the accusations, was sent to three-month pre-extradition detention by the Tbilisi City Court on May 25. On August 23, the Tbilisi City Court upheld the prosecution’s motion and extended by three months his pre-extradition detention period. According to the Law of Georgia on International Cooperation in Criminal Law, pre-extradition detention can further be extended for three months, if circumstances related to extradition require it.
The Demirel College itself experienced legal hurdles. In late August, the National Center for Educational Quality Enhancement refused to renew authorization to the college citing problems with teacher and student registration, as well as the school infrastructure and equipment.