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EU wary of selective justice in Georgia

  |   May 22, 2013 at 11:49 AM
BRUSSELS, May 22 (UPI) -- European officials said they would keep close tabs on legal proceedings against former Georgian political leaders accused of corruption.

Former Georgian Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili and former Labor Minister Zurab Chiaberashvili were detained this week on charges of abusing political office and corruption, Russia's state news agency RIA Novosti reports. Both leaders are considered close allies of embattled President Mikheil Saakashvili.

European Neighborhood Policy Commissioner Stefan Fule and foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton issued a joint statement saying they were following the developments closely.

"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," their statement read.

They said they expected any prosecution to be free from politics.

Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili said Saakashvili's decisions were a blow to Georgia. Ivanishvili's slate beat the United National Movement of Saakashvili in early October. Saakashvili was criticized for going to war with Russia in 2008 over the disputed territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and for cutting diplomatic ties to Moscow.

Ashton warned last year there's no place for selective justice in Georgia after Ivanishvili appointed ministers from the administration of former President Eduard Shevardnadze, ousted in the country's Rose Revolution in 2004.

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