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EU posts bail to free jailed Georgia opposition leader Melia

Published: Updated:

The European Union said Saturday it had posted bail for Georgia’s jailed opposition leader, Nika Melia, paving the way for his release and ending a protracted political crisis in the Caucasus country.

“Today, a bail worth 40,000 GEL ($11,600) was posted in order to allow for Mr. Melia’s release from pre-trial detention,” the EU delegation to Georgia said in a statement, terming it “an important step taken to end the political crisis in Georgia.”

The timing of when Melia, 41, will be released was not immediately clear.

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Melia, the chairman of Georgia’s main opposition force, the United National Movement (UNM), was arrested in February in a violent police raid on his party headquarters, sparking strong condemnation from the West.

The move followed a court order to place him in pre-trial detention after he refused to pay an increased bail fee ahead of hearings in a case related to anti-government demonstrations in 2019.

His release is expected to pave the way for ending a political crisis that has gripped the ex-Soviet republic since October parliamentary polls the opposition denounced as rigged.

His party had held out on signing last month’s EU-mediated agreement to defuse the crisis signed by individual representatives of the ruling Georgian Dream party and almost all opposition parties, saying it would do so only once Melia was released from prison.

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