There are multiple cases over which outgoing president Mikheil Saakashvili may face legal prosecution and death of PM Zurab Zhvania in 2005 may be among those cases, PM Bidzina Ivanishvili said.
When asked during an interview with Tbilisi-based Imedi TV if Saakashvili will face criminal proceedings, Ivanishvili responded: “I am very cautious – I am now head of the government so I am very careful in order not to make any tough statement and I limit myself only with very general remarks.”
“Of course questions do exist in his [Saakashvili] address and of course it would be a lie if I start now saying that there are no questions. If former interior minister [Vano Merabishvili] is in prison [in pre-trial detention], if one former defense minister [Bacho Akhalaia] is in prison [also in pre-trial detention] and another former defense minister [Davit Kezerashvili] is detained if France [as Georgia seeks his extradition]… and if Tbilisi mayor [Gigi Ugulava] is on trial, then of course questions will exist in address [of Saakashvili too],” said the PM.
Asked again whether he rules out or not that criminal proceedings might be initiated against Saakashvili, Ivanishvili responded: “Of course I do not rule it out.”
Asked if Zurab Zhvania’s case may become reason for criminal proceedings against the outgoing president, Ivanishvili responded: “Of course it may be and many other cases as well.”
PM Zurab Zhvania died in February, 2005. According to the official preliminary conclusions (formally the case has never been closed), made shortly after Zhvania’s death, he died of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a faulty gas heater. According to this version the heater was improperly installed in a flat where Zhvania’s body was reportedly found in early hours of February 3, 2005 in the Saburtalo district of Tbilisi. Along with Zhvania, deputy governor of Kvemo Kartli region Raul Usupov was also found dead in the same flat, allegedly also killed by carbon monoxide poisoning.
Citing “multiple inconsistencies” in the official version of causes of death, Giorgi Zhvania, who is now a lawmaker from the Georgian Dream coalition, has long been arguing that his brother was killed; he is blaming President Saakashvili of at least covering up the “crime”.
After GD came into government, prosecutor’s office resumed the probe in November 2012 and since then the authorities said for number of times without any specifics that the investigation is progressing.
The most recently the issue again became a much-discussed topic in media last week when MP Giorgi Zhvania said that the investigation will be concluded in next few months and that there were some new evidence available in the case.
Chief prosecutor, Archil Kbilashvili, said without giving details that “new evidence, new circumstances and consequently new version” has emerged in the ongoing investigation; he also said that not a single possible version is being left without examination.
President Saakashvili said on October 17: “Zurab Zhvania was my close friend and everyone knows it very well what happened there; that was an accident.”
In the interview with Imedi TV, aired on October 21, PM Ivanishvili also said that he has “no desire whatsoever president of my country to be either interrogated or jailed.”
“I am absolutely sincere about it; it’s not good for country’s image,” he said, but also added that it’s not up to him to decide how the law enforcement agencies will act.
Ivanishvili also said: “I think Saakashvili has no political future in Georgia.”