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EU calls on Georgia to pursue justice in Merabishvili- Chiaberashvili cases

Published: May 22, 2013 | 4:53 pm
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(CNA)-EU High Representative, Catherine Ashton and Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle today released a joint statement regarding yesterday’s arrests of the former Prime Minister of Georgia, current Secretary-General of the United National Movement, Vano Merabishvili, and the former Georgian Health Minister, current governor of Kakheti, Zurab Chiaberashvili, New Europe reports.

The joint statement said: “The European Union will closely follow the legal proceedings against them, which it expects to be fair, transparent and independent, in full accordance with international standards. The High Representative and the Commissioner underline their expectation that the Georgian authorities will pursue justice in these cases, as in all other cases, impartially and free from political motivation.”

Vano Merabishvili, and Zurab Chiaberashvili were arrested yesterday and charged with embezzlement and abuse of power. The two men are close allies of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. Mr. Saakashvili quickly denounced the arrests as political. As he stated: “No one should have an illusion that it was not a political decision. It can have much more deplorable consequences for Georgia than for Ukraine.”

Following their arrest, Chiaberashvili and Merabishvili were questioned in connection with an investigation into allegedly embezzling 5.2 million lari (around € 2.5 million) of public funds in order to use it for the former ruling party’s election campaign last year.

Merabishvili’s lawyer, Zuran Chiviashvili, said in television that his client “denied any wrongdoing”.

The court is now responsible to decide within 48 hours after the arrest whether to let Chiaberashvili and Merabishvili go on bail or keep them behind bars.

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