Will Georgian opposition leader Nika Melia be released on April 8?
Georgian opposition on trial April 8
The trial of the leader of the Georgian opposition Nika Melia, head of the United National Movement of Georgia party, is scheduled for April 8.
It is unclear whether the judge will view the payment of bail as a condition for his release. The defense demands that Nika Melia himself be present at the hearing.
His lawyer, Giorgi Kondakhishvili, disputes the very idea of bail as untenable, since, in his opinion, ‘the arrest of Nika Melia is a political act.’
“In fact, on April 8, we will simply hear the decision of the Georgian authorities in court on whether Melia will remain in custody or be released.”
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The Nika Melia case
Nika Melia is the chairman of the former ruling United National Movement party, which was founded by ex-Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, who is now outside the country, as several criminal cases have been opened against him.
Melia is accused of organizing a large-scale rally in front of the parliament building, which took place on June 20, 2019 during the visit to Georgia of the Russian parliament MP Sergei Gavrilov.
In 2019, the court did not arrest Melia. He was released on bail of 30,000 lari [about $9thousand] and obligated to wear a monitoring bracelet.
In November 2020, at an opposition rally against the results of the parliamentary elections, Melia demonstratively took off the bracelet, calling it a symbol of injustice.
In response, the opposition increased the size of the bail by another 40,000 lari [about $12,000] which Melia refused to pay. This then became the official reason for his detention. Several days before his arrest, parliament had stripped Melia of his MP status.
NGOs, as well as the Ombudsman of Georgia and international partners, have drawn attention to the legal problems in the case and say allege it is politically motivated.
A few days before Melia’s arrest, Zhigimantas Pavilionis, chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the Lithuanian parliament, and an active supporter of Georgia’s European integration, came specially to try to persuade the Georgian authorities not to arrest the opposition figure.
Then the special representative of the President of the European Council Christian Danielson arrived in Georgia. But both his first five-day visit and his second two-day visit failed – the government and the opposition could not come to an agreement.