Georgia’s ex-prime minister, Vano Merabashvili, was held in prison illegally in 2013, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on Tuesday.

The judgment of the court’s 17-member Grand Chamber upholds a 2016 ruling by a seven-member division of the court.

Merabishvili, an ally of pro-Western former president Mikheil Saakashvili, is currently serving a five-year jail term for bribery, misappropriation of public funds and abuse of office.

He was one of several Saakashvili allies accused of corruption after a new political party with close links to Russia won elections in 2012.

The ECHR ruled that Merabishvili’s initial arrest and detention were legal.

However, the court ruled that the main motivation for his continued pre-trial detention later that year was to put pressure on him to reveal information about the death of another former prime minister, Zurab Zhvania, in 2005 and about Saakashvili’s bank accounts.



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