Detained Cartographers Released on Bail

The Tbilisi City Court satisfied today the prosecution’s motion to replace the pre-trial detention of Iveri Melashvili and Natalia Ilychova, two former state experts accused of attempted land ceding to Azerbaijan, with the release on GEL 20,000 bail (USD 6,050), per each.

The former state experts have also been prohibited from leaving the country without prior notice and consent of the prosecution. In addition, the court granted the motion to dismiss Melashvili from his position as the Head of the State Border Delimitation Service.

“I essentially disagree with the bail, as neither I nor Natalia are guilty,” remarked Melashvili as he left the courtroom, decrying allegations against him as “absurd” and the case as politically motivated.

Melashvili’s lawyer Eduard Marikashvili said he and his client will consider appealing the bail sum, noting that the decision was “not proportionate,” especially with the state expert’s dismissal from his position.

While Ilychova did not make a statement following her release, her lawyer said the court’s decision “should be appreciated,” “given that, unfortunately, the court in Georgia rarely acts accurately.”

In parallel to the court process, demonstrators, including opposition politicians and civic activists, rallied outside the Tbilisi City Court building, expressing support for the state officials, which they considered to be unfairly detained. The protestors also announced a public fundraiser to help Melashvili and Ilychova pay off the bail sums.

Shame (Sirtskhvilia) Movement activists said in a show of solidarity scores of citizens transferred small amounts to collect GEL 40,000 (USD 12,000) within two hours after announcing the fundraiser.

The prosecution announced its unexpected decision to ask for the release on GEL 30,000 (USD 9,080) bail for the two cartographers earlier today, noting that it now switches all efforts of investigation towards revealing the superiors who as per the prosecutor’s version instructed the two public servants to forfeit the Georgian lands.

Melashvili of the Foreign Affairs Ministry and Ilychova of the Interior Ministry were detained on October 7, few weeks before hotly-contested parliamentary elections. The defendants deny all charges and describe the case as politically motivated.

Much of the Georgian opposition and the civil society outfits also regard the case as politically motivated, and have long been demanding the release of the two “political prisoners.”

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