CSOs react to extension of pre-trial detention for Gigi Ugulava

The Georgian Young Lawyers' Association (GYLA), Transparency International Georgia, the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) and the Civil Development Agency (CiDA) respond to the extended pre-trial detention for former Tbilisi Mayor Giorgi (Gigi) Ugulava.

Through a decree issued on March 13, 2015, the public prosecutor’s office elaborated on the conditions of the case against Gigi Ugulava, changed the details of the charge and requested pre-trial detention under the revised charges. Ugulava has already been held in pre-trial detention since July 2014 in connection with another case, related to the unlawful acquisition of the Imedi TV company and Mtasminda Park. It is worth noting the Ugulava was charged in 22 February, 2013 for the forceful acquisition of Imedi TV.

With the aforementioned points in mind, Gigi Ugulava has been charged on three seperate occassionin relation to Imedi. Moreover, there is little material difference in the decrees from 2013, 2014 and 2015. The facts and evidence are largely identical in the present decrees to those in the decree of February 22, 2013. The investigation retains the right to work on the case in a reasonable timeframe, to determine the validity of presented facts and change the specifications of the charge. However, the manner in which this case has been conducted points to artificial protraction. This raises a concern that the Prosecutor’s Office may have artificially broken down a single case into three separate cases, in an effort to request multiple terms of pre-trial detention for Ugulava at favorable times. This naturally indicates that the case might be driven by political purposes.

Such interpetation of the law creates an opportunity for extending the pre-trial detention for an indefinite time. That means there is a risk that the defendant may remain in detention while there is no guilty verdict against them. This contradicts Article 18 of the Consitution of Georgia and Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This violates not only the fundamental rights of the defendant but also creates a precedent that can lead to establishment of faulty practices.

As we had stated before, under Georgian legislation and international practice, pre-trial detention should be applied as a preventive measure of last resort. In their 2014 report, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) issued significant recommendations, including on pre-trial detention, to the Georgian authorities based on monitoring of high-profile trials. The report stresses that no one should be deprived of the right to liberty in an arbitrary fashion or without due justification. Further, the organization states that less restrictive measures should be applied against the defendant and that detention should be applied for as short a period as possible.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) also refers to the problem of frequent and improper application of pre-trial detention and expresses concern over its duration and frequency. Further, PACE stresses that detention on remand should only be used as a measure of last resort, and that it should not be used for political purposes.


Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association

Transparency International (TI) Georgia

International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED)

Civil Development Agency (CiDA)