Top court rejects Zim’s complaint over EU sanctions

2014-09-18 16:51
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Luxembourg - The European Union's top court on Thursday rejected the complaint of a Zimbabwean businessman and former government official who was hit by EU sanctions and was briefly detained at a British airport in 2007.

The EU imposed an asset freeze and travel ban on Aguy Georgias, owner of an engineering and trucking company, in April 2007, after he was appointed deputy minister for economic development by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

The sanctions remained in place until 2011, when the EU found that Zimbabwe had made sufficient democratic progress under its unity government to ease pressure on "moderates" such as Georgias.

In May 2007, shortly after the measures were imposed, Georgias flew to London's Heathrow Airport for a brief family visit and was to continue his journey to New York. Instead, he was detained at the airport overnight and returned to Zimbabwe the following day.

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.

But the European Court of Justice found that the reasons for the EU sanctions on any member of the Zimbabwean government at the time were valid.

"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," the Luxembourg-based judges argued.

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.

Read more on:    eu  |  robert mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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