The European Court of Justice on Thursday rejected the complaint of former Deputy Minister and businessman Aguy Georgias, who was placed on Zimbabwe’s targeted sanctions list before being briefly detained and deported at a British airport in 2007.
The ruling has poured cold water on another high profile case before the same court brought by Prosecutor General Johannes Tomana who is also challenging the legality of the sanctions imposed on President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle by the European Union (EU) in 2002.
But senior officials in the prosecutor general’s office told VOA Studio 7 that they remain confident that the court will rule in their favour as they feel they had compelling evidence. Tomana’s line of argument was that sanctions violate the universal declaration of human rights. The judgement in this case is expected this month.
The EU imposed an asset freeze and travel ban on Georgias, owner of Trinity Engineering in April 2007, after he was appointed deputy minister for economic development. The sanctions against him were only lifted in 2011.
Georgias filed a case demanding compensation for the detention. He argued that his health had suffered under the stress caused by the sanctions. He sought repayment for medical bills, legal fees and business losses suffered by his companies. His British lawyer, Hugh Mercer, said the sanctions on Zimbabwe were not dissimilar to U.S action at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba where the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is alleged to have been using rendition on prisoners of war.
But the EU top court found that the reasons for the EU sanctions imposed on any member of the Zimbabwean government at the time were valid saying “a person who wished to participate in the democratic mechanisms of his country ought not to become a member of a government responsible for serious human rights violations.”
In addition, they said the decision to detain Georgias at Heathrow Airport had been taken by British authorities, and therefore any claim for damages must be handled by them. Efforts to get a comment from Georgias were futile. Human rights lawyer Jeremiah Bamu said he is not surprised by the ruling.