The Tbilisi City Court changed at its hearing today the pre-extradition detention sentence of Mustafa Emre Çabuk, one of the managers of the Private Demirel College in Tbilisi, and released him on bail pending final court decision on his extradition to Turkey.
Mustafa Emre Çabuk, who was detained in May 2017 at the request of Turkish authorities allegedly for having links to Fethullah Gülen-associated FETÖ - an organization designated as terrorist by Turkey, had been in the pre-extradition detention since May 26, 2017.
Çabuk’s pre-extradition detention period (no more than nine months under the country’s legislation) was to expire on February 24, which would provide for his release from custody.
At today’s court hearing, however, the prosecution filed a motion requesting a GEL 10 000 bail in exchange for Çabuk’s release. The motion was rejected by defense lawyers, and in the end, Çabuk was released on a GEL 1 000 bail.
Speaking to media after his release, Çabuk denied the charges against him, also stressing that he was “a political prisoner.”
Parliamentary Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze, who commented on the matter today, said “the decision was the court’s competence,” and that the authorities would “of course, respect that.” He also noted that Turkey was a “strategic partner and a friend of Georgia,” and that the country had “all the resources to normalize relations with strategic partners, in all circumstances.”
The Tbilisi City Court has no specific time limits for issuing its final decision on Çabuk’s extradition to Turkey. Çabuk’s defense lawyers said they would challenge the court ruling in the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights, if needed.
If the court deems Çabuk’s extradition admissible, final decision will be made by the Justice Minister by accepting or rejecting the extradition request.
A separate court case involving Çabuk’s request to grant him and his family a refugee status in Georgia ended in late January, with the Tbilisi Court of Appeals upholding the decision made by the Tbilisi City Court and rejecting Çabuk’s appeal.