The Tbilisi Court of Appeals upheld on January 26 the decision made by the first instance court and denied refugee status to Mustafa Emre Çabuk, one of the managers of the Private Demirel College in Tbilisi, and his family members.
Mustafa Emre Çabuk, who was detained in May 2017 at the request of Turkish authorities allegedly for having links to Fethullah Gülen-associated FETÖ - an organization designated as terrorist by Turkey, applied for the refugee status shortly after his detention, but the Ministry of Refugees refused to grant the status on July 7, 2017.
Çabuk’s defense lawyers challenged the decision in the Tbilisi City Court in early August, but the court upheld the ministry’s decision and denied the refugee status to him. The Court of Appeals is the last instance court for refugee status-related complaints, meaning that the decision is final and Çabuk will no longer be able to challenge the ruling.
The defense lawyers slammed the court ruling as “unfair.” “This decision has nothing in common with justice; it is politicized, because case materials included a lot of pieces of evidence based on which Çabuk and his family members should have been granted refugee status,” Soso Baratashvili, one of Çabuk’s defense lawyer, told Civil.ge.
Çabuk, whose nine-month pre-extradition detention period expires on February 24, as an asylum seeker, was protected against extradition during status-related proceedings. But, with the decision of the Court of Appeals, the prosecutor’s office is now entitled to apply to the Georgian Justice Ministry for launching the process of his extradition.
Georgian civil society organizations, which have been repeatedly emphasizing that Çabuk might be subject to political persecution, torture and inhumane treatment if extradited to Turkey, issued a joint statement today, calling on President Giorgi Margvelashvili to grant Georgian citizenship to Çabuk and his family members. The step, CSOs believe, “will guarantee and protect their rights in Georgia.”