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Adjarian Prisoner Freed
/ 9 Apr.'04 / 19:58
Civil Georgia

Asanidze is the first Georgian who won a case
in European Court of Human Rights.
Tengiz Asanidze, who won a case in European Court of Human Rights against Georgia, was released on April 9 from Adjarian Security Ministry’s jail, after twelve-year imprisonment. However, the confrontation between Tbilisi and Batumi over Asanidze’s case is far from over.

Adjarian leader Aslan Abashidze, who refused to release Asanidze despite president Shevardnadze's pardon in 1999 has only grudgingly agreed to heed the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

ECHR has ruled on April 8 for Tengiz Asanidzeto be released immediately and a compensation of 150 thousand Euros paid in compensation.

Asanidze was arrested on 4 October 1993 and charged with illegal financial dealings in the Batumi Tobacco Manufacturing Company. In 1994 he was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment and orders were made for the confiscation of his assets. Although he pardoned and the court decision was quashed by the Supreme Court, Asanidze remained in custody.

Asanidze's lawyers have appealed the ECHR in 2001 claiming illegality of his detention and that he has no effective remedy available from the national courts to secure his release.

“Tomorrow Asanidze will be released and he will leave for Tbilisi. I will have to take personal charge of his security in Batumi, but can not guarantee his security elsewhere,” Aslan Abashidze said somewhat cryptically in an interview to the Adjarian television late on April 8.Abashidze also criticized ECHR’s ruling as “biased.”

Georgian Justice Minister Giorgi Papuashvili said on April 8, that the compensation for Asanidze will be paid from the state budget. “But after we will pay, the state can demand reimbursement of this sum from those persons responsible for preventing Asanidze’s release,” Giorgi Papuashvili said, referring to Adjarian leaderhip "including the head of Adjarian autonomy, Adjarian Security Minister and everyone who prevented release of Asanidze despite Georgian President’s pardon and decision of the Supreme Court,”.

However, as Adjarian Autonomy’s representatives in Tbilisi Hamlet Tchipashvili said on April 8, “it is unfair to blame Autonomy’s leadership over failure to release Asanidze.”

Justice Minister also said that the central authorities will start consideration of cases of other prisoners in Adjara, which allegedly are held in custody illegally.

Asanidze's was the first case against Georgia ruled upon by the European Court of Human Rights.

After a hearing on 16 September 2003, the ECHR declared admissible the application lodged by 13 Chechens, which claim that extradition of five their compatriots from Georgia to Russia was illegal.

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