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Criminal Charges Filed Against Two Former Senior Interior Ministry Officials

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Criminal charges involving torture and exceeding official powers will be filed against former head of Interior Ministry’s Department for Constitutional Security (DCS) Data Akhalaia and his former deputy Soso Topuridze into the case of beating up police officers almost eight years ago, chief prosecutor Archil Kbilashvili said on November 30.

Data Akhalaia is brother of former interior and defense minister Bacho Akhalaia, who is now in pretrial detention facing several criminal charges ranging from torture and illegal confinement to exceeding official powers. Bacho Akhalaia’s charges are not related to the case for which prosecutor’s office plans to file charges against his brother.

Data Akhalaia, who most recently served as deputy defense minister, left Georgia after the parliamentary elections; Topuridze, who most recently served as chief of administration of the joint staff of the armed forces, also left the country after the elections.

Prosecutor’s office said in a statement that on January 5, 2005 a senior police officer from one of the Tbilisi’s police departments and his colleague were summoned by Data Akhalaia in DCS headquarters in Tbilisi, where they were “brutally beaten up” – one of them by Akhalaia, his deputy Topuridze and other DCS officers and another one by other DCS employees upon instructions of Akhalaia. Prosecutor’s office said that the two police officers were then illegally locked up for several hours.

The prosecutor’s office claims that Akhalaia and Topuridze beat up the two police officers because they thought the two policemen were involved in “insulting” Tako Salakaia, wife of then interior minister Vano Merabishvili, in one of the Tbilisi restaurants few days earlier.

Other DCS officers involved in this alleged case of beating up two policemen were identified by Prosecutor’s office as Geronti (Gia) Alania and Oleg Melnikov – the two men who were also linked to the high-profile murder case of Sandro Girgvliani in 2006.

Alania was among those four DCS officers who were sentenced for Girgvliani murder case and released in 2009 after pardon.

Melnikov was not charged over this murder case, although allegations still persist that investigation covered up his and several other Interior Ministry officials’ possible involvement in this murder case, which occurred in Tbilisi outskirts shortly after Sandro Girgvliani insulted one of the interior ministry officials in downtown Tbilisi café where Data Akhalaia and wife of then interior minister Vano Merabishvili were also present. The prosecutor’s office is now re-investigating this case.

Chief prosecutor, Archil Kbilashvili, said that charges of torture, illegal confinement and exceeding official powers would be filed against Data Akhalaia, while Soso Topuridze, Geronti Alania and Oleg Melnikov would be charged with torture and exceeding official powers.

Charges against all four men would be filed in absentia as none of them are in Georgia now, according to the prosecutor’s office.

Kbilashvili also said on November 30, that re-investigation into the Girgvliani murder case was ongoing “intensively” and it was “progressing”.

“New details have emerged into this case,” Kbilashvili said, but declined to provide details at this stage, citing ongoing investigation.

 “I want to say that we will resolve this case in the foreseeable future,” the chief prosecutor added.

Robakidze Murder Case

Also on November 30, the chief prosecutor announced that former senior police official Zurab Mikadze was arrested and charged with fabrication of circumstances into Amiran Robakidze murder case eight years ago.

Robakidze was shot by a patrol police officer in November, 2004; the police initially claimed that Robakidze and his companions were “gang of armed men” and policemen acted in self-defense – claims which were discarded by the police later.

Although a policeman who shot Robakidze was convicted, Robakidze’s family has been campaigning actively since then demanding punishment of those involved in fabrication of crime scene by bringing in Kalashnikov assault rifles in an attempt to portray the victim as being “an armed criminal”.

The chief prosecutor said on November 30 that Zurab Mikadze, who at the time was chief of Tbilisi patrol police, was charged with exceeding official powers, illegal use of firearms and coercing others into fabricating testimony.

Prosecutor’s office said that investigation was still ongoing to find out other former police officials who possibly were also involved in fabrication of the crime scene.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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